New York City has had a series of random or unprovoked attacks on children, including in some of the Big Apple's most affluent neighborhoods as police and parents prepare to send children back to school early next month.
Kids have fallen victim to such attacks on New York City streets as recently as last week, when three unsuspecting pre-teens were punched and shoved while they were in celeb-frequented Greenwich Village, according to multiple local reports.
And the number of victims under 18 has increased 34% year-to-date compared to 2021, statistics show. According to data provided by the New York Police Department (NYPD), 117 victims under 18 were shot as of Aug. 14 this year, up from the 87 kids and teenagers shot during the same time in 2021.
But experts warned against the notion of any trend toward assaults on children. Murders and shootings citywide and involving victims of all ages are down year-to-date as of August 14, while felony assaults are up by 19%.
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As New York City parents are readying their children for school to begin in early September, an NYPD spokesperson said the department "routinely assesses security measures deployed in New York City schools, and based on those assessments, we make adjustments as necessary."
"Additional NYPD deployments are determined based on intelligence gathered, schools that have had challenges and schools that need an enhanced presence. Safe corridors are deployed between certain schools, and the closest transit hub provides a safe path to and from school on arrival and dismissal," the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. "The locations of the corridors change routinely based upon an analysis of crime data and trending incidents."
A 12-year-old girl was in the area of Washington and West 11th streets shortly after 5 p.m. Aug. 9 when 34-year-old Rodney Perry randomly punched her in the face, local affiliate FOX 5 New York reported. She reportedly suffered a minor injury but was otherwise okay.
Perry then allegedly carried out two more unprovoked attacks when he shoved 11-year-old and 12-year-old girls nearby, police told the station. Neither victim was injured.
Perry was charged with assault, though it was not clear at the time if he was released as part of the state's bail reform laws, FOX 5 reported.
Greenwich Village, which is also home to New York University and The New School's main campus, has boasted wealthy residents, movie stars and other Hollywood A-listers, including Taylor Swift, Alec Baldwin, Seth Meyers, Hilary Swank and disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein and then-wife Georgina Chapman, a fashion designer.
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Homes in the neighborhood are listed for a median price of $1.4 million and sell for a median price of $1.5 million, according to realtor.com.
A 6-year-old girl was riding her Razor scooter through Brooklyn's pricey Williamsburg neighborhood, an area that boasts homes with a median value of $1.4 million, realtor.com estimates. According to authorities, a trio of violent thieves targeted the girl on the evening of July 28. One of the three suspects allegedly punched her in the chest while the others stole the scooter.
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The male suspects then fled. The victim received medical treatment at the scene. Police later released surveillance footage of the suspects, who are believed to have been between the ages of 14 and 16.
Meanwhile, a 9-year-old girl who was visiting from Miami in March was randomly sucker-punched while walking near Central Park and The Plaza, Manhattan's historic hotel, according to multiple reports and a good Samaritan.
Raheem Ramsarran, 27, was allegedly spotted "screaming" at people before he carried out his unprovoked attack on the young girl, said doorman Neil Johnson, who intervened to help.
Ramsarran reportedly punched the girl in the head near the intersection of Central Park South and Grand Army Plaza just before 11:30 a.m. March 21, at which point Johnson, who worked at The Plaza, stepped in.
"I heard a guy screaming … then I heard a woman screaming, so I ran toward Central Park South. There was a man that was walking very fast toward a woman with a baby carriage and a little girl. The little girl was crying, and the woman was screaming," he told Fox News shortly after the attack.
"When you hear a woman screaming, and when you see the visual of a woman with a baby carriage and a little girl running away screaming from a guy, you gotta help."
The young victim was treated at the scene and did not require further medical attention, FOX 5 New York reported. Ramsarran was arrested just minutes after the alleged attack.
In February, 34-year-old Babacar Mbaye was arrested for randomly attacking a 4-year-old boy - and punching the unsuspecting child in the head - in bustling Times Square, according to multiple reports.
Mbaye was charged with assault, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest for the alleged Feb. 17 attack. According to the New York Post, he admitted to prosecutors that he drank a bottle of sanitizer before the assault.
His defense attorney argued in court shortly after his arrest that Mbaye was "under the influence of an intoxicated, debilitating psychiatric episode," Newsweek reported.
The boy was not seriously hurt.
Speaking to Fox News Digital Thursday, a retired NYPD detective sergeant said the city is often grappling with offenders who are mentally ill. And whether mental health is at play, the suspects or the types of events often share similarities.
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"People who do this stuff - mentally ill or not - they are always seeking out the most vulnerable. And those are usually the very young and the very old," said Joseph Giacalone, who now works as an adjunct professor at New York City's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
He noted that the issue of children as victims was "difficult to define" and varied based of the circumstances of each instance.
"Each case has to be handled differently and the reasoning behind it," Giacalone added. "You're dealing with the mentally ill attacking the kids in the streets of Manhattan. And then you look at the outer boroughs, or even up in Harlem areas and the Bronx and Brooklyn. We've seen these drive-by shootings … Two different things. We can't conflate the two, but they're all very serious."
Now-retired NYPD Chief of Department Louis Anemone, a longtime police executive who retired as the agency's highest-ranking member, told Fox News Digital random, violent crimes against children - while tragic - are unfortunately not uncommon.
Anemone, who has been lauded as the mastermind behind the NYPD's CrimeStat program, said reports of such assaults on children would likely encourage a larger police presence in the area, especially if it's a highly-trafficked region.
"If these are generally in public places, shopping areas, transportation areas, you want to see the cops there," Anemone said by phone. "We can't cover every single street in the city, but we certainly can cover the highly-trafficked ones."
Speaking about trends and crimes involving children coming to and from school, Anemone said he learned during his 35 years with the NYPD that people have to ask "the hard questions."
"How come this kid was punched? Where did it happen? What time of the day? Where was he coming from and going to? What about the perp? … What's behind this?" Anemone added. "I'm hoping that they're asking those questions."