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Migrant taken into custody as person of interest in rape of 13-year-old in Queens park


(NEW YORK) — A person of interest is in custody in connection with the rape of a 13-year-old girl in a Queens park last week, police sources told ABC News.

The person, a 25-year-old Ecuadorian migrant who entered the U.S. illegally in June 2021, was picked up overnight after community members recognized him from a photo and video released by police, according to the police sources. The person was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

The individual has several transit summonses since entering the U.S. but no other arrests, sources said.

NYPD Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry praised the community efforts that led to the person of interest being taken into custody in an interview with New York ABC station WABC.

“The kids, children, principals and teachers can now go to school with a little more ease, and the family can have a sense of relief today,” he said.

Reflecting on the investigation, Daughtry commended the bravery of the young victims and the community’s support.

“The sketches from those brave kids were invaluable,” he said. “Old-fashioned police work, combined with modern technology, helped us bring this case closer to resolution. The city’s response was a resounding ‘no’ to this heinous crime.”

The sexual assault took place at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday when two schoolmates, a 13-year-old male and a 13-year-old female, were approached by a man in Kissena Park. The man flashed what police described as a “large machete-style knife” and forced the 13-year-old victims to walk for several minutes into a wooded area.

The individual then forcibly removed the cellphones of both victims, tied the boy and girl’s wrists together with a shoelace and sexually assaulted the female victim before fleeing the location on foot in an unknown direction.

The two 13-year-olds were taken to the hospital in stable condition after they returned to school to explain what happened.

Investigators recovered the shoelace used to tie the children’s hands together, along with a water bottle the suspect left behind.

The individual being sought was described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5-foot-5, in his 20s, with curly hair and last seen wearing red sneakers and carrying a green backpack. He appeared to have dental braces and had a tattoo of a boar or a bull with red eyes on his chest.

“The entire police department is focused on getting justice for this young survivor,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said last week during a press conference.

The NYPD released photos of a person of interest late Monday and were offering a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

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