A man was arrested early Saturday morning in connection with three attempted sexual assaults this week in Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park, police said.
Investigators say Elvis Nina Pichardo, 40, of the Bronx, is responsible for a trio of attacks within a span of an hour Wednesday morning.
Charges include attempted rape and attempted sexual abuse, robbery and assault.
In the first incident, police say Pichardo threatened a 34-year-old woman walking in the park, then punched her and stole her phone.
Soon after, he allegedly threatened a 40-year-old woman, but a runner intervened and scared him off.
Officers say he then attacked a 44-year-old woman, striking her with a tree branch and repeatedly slammed her head into the ground until she lost consciousness. Police say he then tried to sexually assault her.
Additional NYPD officers have been patrolling the area since the attacks.
The Upper Manhattan park is more than 200 acres, with dense and winding wooded areas.
The surrounding neighborhood has responded with a show of unity.
A few hours after police arrested Pichardo, dozens of community members came together for a walk.
The Washington Heights Women’s Walking Crew, formed during the pandemic, organized the Saturday morning stroll. They say they wanted to respond with unity instead of fear after three of their neighbors were attacked.
“It is time for us to come together as a community and reclaim what is ours,” said Luana Ferreira, a lifelong Washington Heights resident. “I am happy to see everyone participating because I feel like there is a sense of collective responsibility.“
“We need to be going to the root cause of these problems and the root cause is many times mental health, many times it is economic, many times it is lack of housing," added Angela Fernandez, another Washington Heights local.
Walkers said it is on the community to work together and make sure everyone feels safe in their beloved park.
“It happened here, but it is not a space where it is going to continue to happen so we are reclaiming the park because this is our park, our neighborhood and we cannot operate in fear,” said Denise Del Rio, a member of the Washington Heights Women’s Walking Crew.
Residents are calling for more police, better lighting and cameras in the park.