NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police say that a suspect who was seen on video grabbing a woman and shoving a bag of feces down her pants struck twice that very day on the Upper East Side.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, area residents were repulsed by the vile acts.
“It’s very scary,” said Carole Kaplan. “I have to have my wits about me all the time.”
Kaplan is avoiding using her cellphone as she walks after learning of the attack that was caught on video Monday evening.
That attack took place around 6 p.m. Monday on East 74th Street between First and York avenues.
Police said the 27-year-old woman, who was talking on her cell phone, was walking down the street when the man came up from behind, grabbed her waist, shoved the bag in her pants and then grabbed her buttocks.
The man pulled off his rubber gloves and threw them into the street as he stomped away.
The victim sought help at a nearby parking garage afterward. The attendant told the New York Daily News the woman was so shaken she could not even dial 911.
“I think it’s the most traumatic thing, and I don’t even know how anybody gets over something like that,” Kaplan said. “It’s just horrific.”
“That’s really gross,” added Tara Pairan of the Upper East Side.
It’s unknown if the suspect said anything during the incident. Sources tell CBS2’s Andrea Grymes they believe the suspect targeted the woman at random.
Police said the same suspect is also believed to be involved in a second incident earlier in the day Monday.
In that incident, a 33-year-old woman was walking along 91st Street between Madison and Park avenues around 2:25 p.m., when the suspect threw excrement at her.
The woman was hit in the face and torso, police said.
The suspect is described by police as a 40-year-old black man, 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds with Afro hair style.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a news conference that the suspect is believed to be homeless.
“Really disgusting attacks,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. “We think it’s the same male. We have members of the 19th Precinct and the Manhattan North Task Force doing grid searches for him now.”
Lenny Burns, who is homeless, hangs out on First Avenue. He did not mince words when talking about the suspect.
“He’s a whack job!” Burns told CBS2’s Aiello.
Burns said he saw the attack on 74th Street and saw the perpetrator.
“I said something like, ‘Come here, blank, blank! I’ll bust your blank, blank!’”
Burns said the attacker is a known troublemaker who often wears gloves because he picks through garbage cans.
“He don’t like diseases or whatever; he don’t like any of that stuff,” Burns said.
Because of that, Burns said, the man wears gloves all the time, “when he touches any door; anything.”
Meanwhile, some residents in the neighborhood told Grymes they’ve seen the suspect in the area before, and also believe he is homeless.
“He shouts crazy things going up and down the street,” one man said.
Others told Grymes they were shocked by the crime.
“That’s horrifying,” said Katie Whittaker. “I always thought it was really safe, and that’s really disgusting.”
“That’s incredibly bizarre,” another woman said.
“It’s a safe neighborhood so it’s kind of a weird situation to have going on in this area,” one man said.
Other residents said homeless people often cause trouble on the Upper East Side. CBS2’s Aiello spotted one man rolling on the sidewalk right in front of a bar, while a block away, another man urinated right in front of a busy convenience store.
Until the man is found, those who live and work in the area told CBS2’s Valerie Castro they are on high alert.
“I hope it doesn’t happen to me,” Pairan said. “I should maybe wear a plastic bag when I leave home.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.