NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Residents of a Manhattan community claim that they are being held hostage by a modern-day wild man.
SoHo residents have tried everything to get a judge to keep the man behind bars, but the law may not be on their side.
Terrified neighbors donned disguises to avoid being identified by 6-foot-5 Richard Pearson during a court appearance on Wednesday, CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported.
“Once he’s back out again then we have to look all the time to see where he is. So, it’s very frightening,” one SoHo resident said.
People who live near Lafayette and Spring streets refused to back down. They flooded the judge with dozens of letters begging him to keep Pearson off of the street.
“He threatened to force me to perform sexual activity on him,” said another resident.
Videos show Pearson allegedly karate-kicking a disabled man and charging at a store owner.
Residents have compared him to schizophrenic wild man Larry Hogue, who terrorized the Upper West Side in the 1990s. They said that posh SoHo is under siege and that Pearson is a “ticking time bomb” who “urinates in public” and could eventually kill or rape somebody.
One Halal cart vendor wrote about a specific incident.
“Richard has come to my cart to take my knife to hurt and kill people,” he wrote.
Pearson’s attorney said that the matter should be decided during his trial.
“He has not pleaded guilty. He denies the allegations and the matter is set for trial,” Alex Grosshtern said.
In May, Pearson was arrested for cocaine possession but on Wednesday he refused a plea deal that would have sent him to a mental health and drug treatment. Community members called his return to the streets a failure of the system.
“If somebody is a known danger they have a responsibility to protect society. The entire neighborhood is watching and waiting” a neighbor said.
Pearson is due back in court in October. He faces a year in prison on a drug charge, but has already served six months and could be back on the streets in a short time.
Pearson has been arrested at least 16 times in the past 30 years, according to court documents.
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