Police Probe Whether Incidents Were Connected To Gropings Earlier This Year

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two teenage girls were groped within minutes of each other in the Baychester section of the Bronx on Thursday, and a day later, police were investigating whether the assaults were connected to others this year.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, a footbridge off Baychester Avenue is very popular, giving students and teachers at Harry S Truman High School a quick route over Interstate 95. But people have now begun taking precautions there.

But on Thursday morning, an 18-year-old woman was attacked on the footbridge. Police said a man came up from behind and covered her face, and then groped her.

Five minutes later, there was a second attack on the bridge, this time on a 14-year-old girl.

“It’s very scary,” said Keira Stewart of Hoboken. “I have to watch my back, like right now I’m walking by myself, and you have to be carefully, especially in the daytime, too.”

Stewart is a speech therapist at the school and uses the footbridge every day.

“I often have someone walk me across the bridge, because I have to take the train, and I definitely fear for my life for that.”

Many in the area said they have never really felt safe on the footbridge.

“I come to work here, and so I get picked up by a car every day,” said Jackie Rodriguez of Washington Heights, who also works at Truman High School. “I won’t even take the bus, because I’m not comfortable with the area.”

Police on Friday were investigating to see if the two incidents are connected to a series of groping attacks that have happened over the last six months.

Between February and June, in the Edenwald section of the Bronx, nine people were groped. Police have released a sketch of an attacker in those incidents.

A police sketch of a suspect sought in a series of forcible touching incidents in the Bronx. (credit: NYPD)

A police sketch of a suspect sought in a series of forcible touching incidents in the Bronx. (credit: NYPD)

Like the gropings in Baychester, all happened between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and the victims were similar in age – between 12 and 21 years old.

“I think it’s something to be really concerned about,” Rodriguez said.

She was concerned because for so many, the footbridge is the only way to get where they have to go.

The high school is still very crowded every day with summer school and special education, and there is a large contingent of school safety officers around the building.

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