NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for a man they believe is behind similar attacks on two women in different Queens apartment buildings, choking and then robbing them.
In both cases, the suspect targeted women in their 70s in their lobbies, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Wednesday.
Police released a video of a man going through a subway turnstile. He was caught on surveillance at a separate location before he attacked a 78-year-old woman in her Rego Park apartment, near Queens Boulevard and 67th Drive.
Duddridge spoke to her daughter by phone. She said her mom was getting into the elevator on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. when a man forced his way in and started strangling her.
She said her mother started screaming and crying and the man took off with packages that were in the lobby of the building.
A neighbor came to help the woman, who suffered pain and bruising but did not go to the hospital.
Her daughter said she thinks a resident didn’t pay attention to who they were letting into the building.
“I truly feel like these buildings need security, because some people are helpless and some people, you know, live by themselves,” Michelle Barrett said.
Two weeks earlier, on July 28, a few blocks away on 64th and 98th Street, police said the same man attacked 72-year-old Blanca Alicea, who was picking up her mail in the lobby of her building at 12:30 p.m.
A man she thought was a delivery person choked her and robbed her of $500 worth of jewelry and cash before taking off.
“To this day, my fear is he’ll be back. I dream of him,” Blanca Alicea told Duddridge exclusively. “He grabbed me from behind, he choked me, and started screaming, ‘Shut up! Shut up!’ so tight and I could hardly breathe,” Alicea said.
Mike Rocco works in the building and was just seconds too late to help.
“She screamed ‘Mike! Mike!’ I ran over, said ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘Somebody robbed me in the lobby,'” Rocco said.
Alicea told Rocco the assailant took off running, but he was unable to locate the man.
Alicea also suffered pain and bruising, but didn’t go to the hospital.
Residents said you have to be so careful about who you let inside.
“Always vigilant, always vigilant. You have to be,” a man named Russ said.
Police said the suspect is 30 to 40 years old and was last seen wearing all dark clothing.
The daughter of one of the latest victim said her mother is now scared to go out alone. Police have put up posters offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the man’s arrest.
“I am praying they catch him because he’s very aggressive,” Alicea said.
Police believe each incident was totally random.
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