NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An attempted murder suspect was on the run Wednesday afternoon after escaping police custody in Harlem, and a video capturing the escape has sparked a lot of questions.

As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, authorities want to know how a handcuffed prisoner assaulted a detective and got away.

An overnight manhunt yielded no signs of 23-year-old Tareek Arnold, who was still at large Wednesday.

“It’s nerve-racking because you don’t know what he may do,” said Harlem resident Emily Haywood. “You’re just praying and hoping nothing will happen.”

Tareek Arnold

Tareek Arnold escaped police custody in Harlem on Tuesday, June 23, police say. (Credit: CBS2)

Tareek Arnold, 23, took off around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and never looked back, police said. He shoved one of the officers escorting him out of the 32nd precinct station in Harlem and bolted, police said.

The officers were taking Arnold to a waiting vehicle when police said he made his move, running west on West 135th Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Schneider reported.

Police said Arnold escaped after he used his body to push one of the plainclothes officers to the ground as they left the precinct.

Nearby surveillance cameras were rolling as Arnold bolted down the street, his hands bound behind his back handcuffs, as two detectives ran behind him trying to catch up, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Arnold was still on the run – wanted and dangerous.

He was first believed to have run into a nearby apartment building on St. Nicholas Avenue where residents were told to stay inside for two hours as a massive police response flooded the area.

“I just came home from work, and I went to pull up, and while I pulled up, I seen one car pulling up there — and three cops jumped out the car,” one woman said.

Arnold was being taken to Central Booking, where he was supposed to be arraigned on attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at a man four times, critically injuring him the night of June 8.

A woman with whom Arnold lives at 2400 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. did not want to show her face as she defended him.

“He’s not a bad person at all, he just lives in a bad neighborhood,” she told Burrell. “He’s a good kid.”

When Burrell said Arnold was accused of shooting at a man and trying to kill him, the woman replied, “A man that killed a man.”

A woman in the apartment later told Schneider said she last saw Arnold before he was arrested Tuesday night.

“I haven’t heard from him. I don’t know where he’s at,” she said. “I’m worried. I hope that nothing bad happens to him.”

When Schneider noted that Arnold took off from police, the woman said, “Yeah, he did.”

Arnold has a violent history with nine prior arrests including assaults, Schneider reported.

Police late Wednesday afternoon were stationed outside his Harlem apartment building just blocks from where he fled, and his wanted poster was plastered on light posts.

Meanwhile, Professor Robert McCrie of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said it was disappointing to see detectives failing to catch up to the suspect.

“It’s regrettable video, to see police officers huffing and puffing down an avenue after somebody who is handcuffed behind his back like this,” he said. “It’s not the way our police officers should be.”

But as police Commissioner Bill Bratton said two weeks ago, it’s the way it is.

“Once you get on the job here, we don’t have physical testing. My colleague in London is putting that system into place amid great controversy, I’m watching with great interest how he makes out,” he said. “Under our contracts, we don’t have that provision.”

Police officers do undergo fitness tests at the Police Academy, but there are no requirements after they graduate. The NYPD Patrol Guide only offers two guidelines:

• “Be fit for duty at all times, except when on sick report.”
• “Do not consume intoxicants to the extent that member becomes unfit for duty.”

All members of the service are required to remain fit for duty as specified above, and are reminded of their absolute responsibility to remain fit for duty while in possession of their firearms.

“For their sake and the sake of the department, there needs to be better physical fitness for the force,” McCrie said.

Investigators said Arnold was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, gray sweatpants and a gray hooded sweatshirt. Arnold also has two tattoos, one that says “troll” and another that says “militant soldiers.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.