NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man was due in court Friday to face multiple charges after he allegedly attacked a woman on the Upper West Side.

Desmond Smith, 32, was arrested Thursday and charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, strangulation and assault.

Police said the 37-year-old victim exited an Uber around 11 p.m. Wednesday near Central Park West and 84th Street.

Police said when the suspect approached and tried to talk with her, she ignored him, but the man allegedly threw her onto the sidewalk, punched, stomped and bit her as he started to remove her clothing.

Sources told CBS2 that she fought back, even biting him.

Ernest Pjedri, who works as a doorman across the street, heard the woman scream and went to see what happened.

“She was on the floor and he was on top of her. He was hitting her, basically, with hand or foot, I couldn’t see that, but also in the way I saw him pulling off the clothes,” said Pjedri.

He said he pulled out his cellphone to snap a photo of the man, and the suspect was distracted by the flash.

Pjedri said the man tried to tell him the woman owed him money. He and the neighbor both called police, but the suspect and victim took off separately before officers arrived.

“I just don’t feel safe here on this street, which has been my home for over 21 years,” resident Florence Montmare told CBS2’s Marc Liverman.

So unsafe that she said she’s moving out.

According to the NYPD, the man lived at Skyway Men’s Shelter 83rd Street Annex. The shelter is run by the Department of Homeless Services.

“When you come home late at night, they will be hanging out outside and say very inappropriate things, and there’s kids like right there,” said Montmare.

CBS2 reached out to the DHS to find out what measures are being taken to keep area residents safe and whether it knew about the suspect’s criminal past, but those questions went unanswered.

Some residents Liverman spoke to were hoping for answers, too.

“Maybe, given that situation, the police will patrol the area a little bit more carefully,” one woman said.

Others said what happened Wednesday could happen anywhere.

“I walk by there every day and I have no problem with the people in the shelter,” a man said. “I don’t have any problem.”

According to police, Smith has 10 prior arrests, including assault, harassment and grand larceny.


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