NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man and woman wearing masks pushed their way into an elderly woman’s East Harlem apartment in broad daylight Thursday, and police were looking for the dangerous duo hours later.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, the elderly victim was too distraught and too terrified to speak on camera late Thursday. Residents of the public housing building where it happened believe it all could potentially have been prevented.
The woman left her apartment for a moment Thursday afternoon, walking just a few feet to throw some garbage down a chute in the hallway.
She was heading back when all of a sudden, loved ones said, someone in a mask came out of nowhere.
“This is an elderly lady that got accosted by somebody that she don’t even know,” said friend Cathy Gamble.
It happened around 1:30 p.m. in a building in the New York City Housing Authority’s Johnson Houses, at 1581 Park Ave. in East Harlem.
Police said two suspects – a man and woman – were clad in ski masks and armed with guns as they pushed their way inside the victim’s apartment.
They allegedly made off with $10,000.
“She was all tore to pieces — that I know,” said the victim’s brother, Eugene Fortune.
Tenants said the incident is scary, but not surprising considering that the front door hasn’t locked in years.
Even CBS2’s crew was able to walk right in.
“The door — there’s no security and stuff. You know?” said tenant Wendy Diaz. “Anybody could go in and out.”
Gamble, the victim’s friend, is also the captain of the tenant patrol. In addition to broken locks, she and others do not believe the surveillance cameras work.
“She should not have been subjected to something like that. If we had fixed doors, cameras working, and some security — we have no security.”
A NYCHA representative said in a statement: “Our residents deserve better. We are working on installing new, safer doors at Johnson Houses as soon as possible to help us provide our residents the secure homes they deserve.”
The new doors are funded, but NYCHA is working on finding another contractor to install them. There was no word late Thursday if the surveillance cameras captured any images of the suspects.