49th Precinct Cops nab rapist

Congratulations were in order for 49th Precinct Officer Robert Santarello (center left) and his partner Sergeant Tracey Donato (center-right) as they accepted their Cop of the Month awards before their families.
Photo by David Cruz

A pair of sharp-eyed cops who helped take down a rapist got the thanks of the community and their boss with the 49th Precinct Cop of the Month award.

Partners Sgt. Tracey Donato and Officer Robert Santarello arrested a “predator” who confessed to raping a woman in March.

Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson presented the crimefighting duo with the award at the 49 Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday, May 1.

Nicholson said a young woman was walking to her Britton Street home early March 4 when she was followed and attacked.

“She actually held the door open for him,” said Nicholson. “He followed her into the building, then forcibly raped her.”

Precinct cops and the Special Victims Unit launched a full-scale manhunt for the “stranger rapist”, as he was called. A photo from a video that caught him walking past a nearby bodega was distributed all over the neighborhood.

Fast forward to April 16. Sergeant Donato and Officer Santarello were on their regular nightshift patrol when they received a radio report of a sexual assault on Allerton Avenue and Bronx Park East.

“The officers start the canvas looking for the description of the perpetrator,” said Nicholson. “They happen to stop this gentleman.

“The two officers just start to look at him and say, ‘I think that’s the guy that everybody’s been looking for,’” said Nicholson.

Their instincts later proved true. The suspect was taken into custody and later identified in a lineup by his first victim..

The suspect later confessed to the sexual assault, the inspector said.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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