Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who assaulted Jose Rodriguez (above) last Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Ted Regencia)
An 81-year-old Parkchester resident was knocked down and punched inside the front door of his apartment building Thursday afternoon by a young male assailant who tore off the senior’s jewelry and emptied his pockets of cash.
Police released security video footage from the building at 1555 Unionport Road that showed the attack lasted less than a minute. The elderly victim, Jose Rodriguez, sustained minor injuries, including multiple bruises.
The footage shows Rodriguez, who was returning home at around 4 p.m., opening the door to his building, when a man wearing a towel draped over his head grabs him from behind.
The mugger then held Rodriguez in a chokehold and shoved him into the lobby, where he began hitting him in the face. Once Rodriguez fell to the floor, the teen tore the towel from his head and continued beating and kicking.
Rodriguez, who has dark bruises on his face from the attack, said he has lived in Parkchester for 35 years, and this was the first time he had been assaulted.
“I don’t feel safe,” said Rodriguez, who was born in Puerto Rico. “You don’t feel safe in any part of the world.” Rodriguez said he did not get a good look at his attacker. His younger sister, Luisa Rodriguez, said she was saddened by the incident.
Other neighbors commented that the area had become dangerous only recently. Police report that over the past two years, robberies in Precinct 43, which includes Parkchester, have risen 3.3 percent.
“I’ve seen all kinds of stuff happening in the last couple years,” said Ronald Smith, 69, a retired social worker. “I’ve been here eight years and it’s getting worse and worse.”
Smith said security in the area was not enough. “I’m checking when I go out at night to see who’s behind me,” he said. “I’m checking to see who’s on the elevator with me. You learn to be cautious. These little incidents make you that way.”
In August, a 64-year-old man was assaulted and mugged by three assailants while entering his building in Fordham Heights, 3 miles away.
Police are asking anyone with information about Rodriguez’s attacker, who they believe is in his late teens, to report to the website nypdcrimestoppers.com. All tips are anonymous.