NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The search is on for a sexual predator targeting women in Queens.
Police say the suspect followed at least three women as they left a subway station before he attacked them. The incidents have left women in the area looking over their shoulders, reports CBS 2’s Magee Hickey.
“I was so scared. I am never going to hang out late at night,” said St. John’s University student Georgia Wong.
Investigators said one woman was attacked last Wednesday, and two more were assaulted on Sunday.
Police were stationed in front of one of the subway stations where the sexual predator followed his victims, aged 25 and 28, and tried to engage them in conversation between 4:15 and 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.
The suspect allegedly followed the young women for several blocks, then grabbed them from behind, groping and fondling them as he tried to remove their underwear.
Police describe the suspect as a black man in his 20s, about six feet tall with a thin build and dreadlocks.
All three of the victims, each in her 20s, suffered cuts and bruises. Fortunately, they were able to fight off the suspect, who ultimately ran off.
The buddy system didn’t work in the second attack. Two women walking down the street together were not safe from a sexual predator.
Self-defense expert Gabrielle Rubin said there were a few things they could have done differently.
“If these girls were walking very close together and were very quiet, it might have made them more of a target,” Rubin said.
Rubin said that no matter what time of the day, women should walk with a purpose, sending a message to a would-be attacker.
“The best thing to do is to let them know you see them – the element of surprise,” Rubin said. “Turn and let them know they see you walking.”
It’s also very important to always maintain confident body language.
“Put your hand out, and it means the same thing to everyone on the planet. No hands in the pocket. Look at the language,” Rubin said.
Safety items such as an alarm, a whistle or a small stick called a kubaton should be in women’s hands and at the ready if they’re walking in the wee hours.
“If someone is getting too close…get the attention of everyone,” Rubin said.
Too often, women are caught with their safety items in their handbags, and not in their hands. It’s vital to always be prepared.
Rubin does not encourage using pepper spray because if the wind changes direction, the spray can harm the user.
Most safety items can be purchased at your local drug store.