Jogger Attack Causes Local Fear

Police are in a race against time to keep joggers feeeling safe.

A 29-year old male jogging alone through Van Cortlandt Park was attacked by two men last Tuesday on March 22.

One man distracted the victim so the other could punch him in the face with an unknown object which caused a deep cut on the victims right cheek, according to DCPI.

The incident took place at about 7:15 p.m as the jogger ran along the Putnam Trail in Van Cortlandt Park.

After the suspects attacked the victim they ran northward on the trail according to NYPD.

No arrests have been made at this time, and the investigation is ongoing according to DCPI.

The suspect who punched the victim is described as a man between 20 and 30 years old with a small afro and a slim build standing at approximately 6 foot 1.

He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweater according to officers.

The other suspect is also described as man between the ages of 20 and 30 wearing a hooded sweater.

Christina Taylor, executive director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, calls the incident a “very rare occurrence.”

She says after working in the park for 15 years this is the first act of violence she has heard of, aside from one or two muggings in which the victims were not hurt.

Even so, Taylor says she has had many people tell her they will no longer be running in the park after daylight hours.

Some runners have even told her they will only be exercising in large groups from now on.

“I want to let people know the park is extremely safe,” said Taylor, who doesn’t want to see runners giving up on the park.

“If you respond to an isolated act of violence that way you can’t go anywhere,” she said.

Although these incidents are rare, The Friends of Van Cortlandt Parks is pushing for NYPD to increase security in the area by having park enforcement patrol the park on a more regular basis.

“If they make their presence more known maybe it will deter these things from happening,” said Taylor, who says there is currently no set schedule for how many times per day the park is patrolled.

She says cops on patrol usually come if a disturbance is reported, but after 4 p.m. the number of police on patrol drops. “Most work the 8 to 4 shift,” said Taylor “I would like to have a more regular NYPD presence later in the day when more things like this are likely to happen.”

The executive director said that more lighting particular in the area that the incident happened would also be helpful.

There are over 20 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, and many of the trails are in the woods, but last Tuesday’s incident occurred on a path that is not set back, and that many runners use frequently.

Although the foot traffic is heavy, the area is not well-lit.

Despite these concerns Christina still advises people to enjoy the park.

“ It’s so beautiful, there’s so much to do,” said Christina, “I continue to walk by myself.”

Reach Reporter Madeline Anthony at (718) 260-4591. E-mail her at manthony@cnglocal.com.

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