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LES Community On Edge With Sex Assault Suspect On The Loose

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Lower East Side Sexual Assault Suspect (credit: NYPD)

Lower East Side Sexual Assault Suspect (credit: NYPD)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A community is on edge after two teenage girls were attacked in the same apartment complex on the Lower East Side.

CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne spoke to a woman who said she had a close call with the suspected rapist.

“Just a guy came in the elevator. I punched my number, and he didn’t punch his number, so I got a little suspicious,” Natalie Vera said. “I got out on my floor, and I kind of remember him that night.”

Vera said her instincts told her something was wrong when the man followed her into the elevator of her apartment building. She believes it’s the same man police said later tried to rape a teenage girl at knifepoint.

“Even the detectives told me I was really, really lucky – someone’s watching over me or something,” she said.

Police said the man attacked the 17-year-old girl after following her into the elevator at the LaGuardia houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. They said the suspect threatened her at knifepoint, forced her into a nearby stairwell and tried to rape her, but that she was able to fight him off.

In January, the man allegedly did the same thing at another building in the complex. Police say that time, the man sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman.

Residents in the community are now on high alert, and police posted signs throughout the complex with pictures of the suspect.

“I grew up in this area, I know a lot of people around here, so I’m definitely keeping an eye out for this guy,” resident Mike Lopez said.

Police said the suspect took pictures on his cell phone of the woman he raped.

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