omar hoist

Omar Hoist, a 32-year-old man referred to by police as “undomiciled,” was arrested late on Tuesday and charged with raping a 28-year-old woman on Sunday around 4:30 a.m. in Central Park. Hoist was charged with rape, strangulation and assault, according to NBC News and Gothamist.

Police gave the following description of the crime:

“The victim, 28, was approached by the suspect as she walked on East 88th Street near 5th Avenue at approximately 3:30 a.m. The suspect and the victim began talking “and continued to walk together toward Central Park.”

Investigators say the victim and the suspect, who told her his name was Omar, eventually entered Central Park near 100th Street, and “after walking along a bike path, both sat down on a bench. The suspect then turned violent on the victim, and dragged her into a grassy area and raped her. The victim managed to flee the scene, and the suspect fled on foot in the opposite direction. After the attack, the victim ran to Mt. Sinai Hospital.”

This marks at least the third horrifying crime allegedly committed by a homeless person in Central and Riverside Parks in a little over a year: the rape of a 73-year-old birdwatcher in Strawberry Fields, the Riverside Park stabbings last month, and now this rape. New York’s homeless population has skyrocketed under Mayor Bloomberg, reaching the highest levels since the Great Depression. Homeless people on the street tend to be men with health problems and/or mental illness, according to the Coalition for the Homeless: “Studies show that the large majority of street homeless New Yorkers are individuals living with mental illness or other severe health problems. Four out of five street homeless New Yorkers are men.”

The mayor’s critics say he has not done enough to offer supportive housing to the homeless that could allow them to get treatment; instead, the homeless have increasingly been placed in shelters run by private landlords with unsavory reputations.

Crime is still down in Central Park and other city parks compared to the bad old days, but there have recently been a succession of disturbing crimes, from the ones mentioned above, to attacks on a woman and her baby in Riverside Park near Inwood this year, and attacks using chains on bicyclists in Riverside Park. The city has reduced the number of police officers in the city’s parks, from 400 to 80 in the last few years, according to Parks Advocate Geoffrey Croft.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Bonnie says:

      People with the best intentions give these poor souls money and that doesn’t solve a problem. Sometimes leading to alcohol abuse and drugs. There are numerous agencies that could help take care of these people. Give donations to these charities and not to the person on the street.

    2. Aaron Biller says:

      Time to connect the dots. Less police equals more crime. We need to revisit the judicial order that requires the City to take in anyone who was run out of DumbFork, USA, arrives in NYC and declares themselves homeless. Golly Gee! So far two of the three recent assaults in CP and Riverside Parks were by homeless men who had recently arrived from distant towns. We don’t know where No. 3 assailant hails from. Combine this with shelters that offer no hope, and supportive housing where little or no social and psychiatric services (better called “not very supportive housing”) it should no surprise no one. Bad policy has turned the streets into asylums. And we hear from officials and social service providers who live in gated communities lecturing us on how good their programs are, and how much money they are saving us. To them, the victims are road kill. We need a public uproar. We need to stop pretending, and start caring for the homeless population for the sake of compassion, humanity and self-preservation.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        i agree with most of what Aaron says above. And it seems to be an argument for facilities like the W 95th Street transitional shelters, which DO offer supportive serivces and screening — and a safe environment. are they good enough? no. but the uproar is directed at the wrong target.

        the only issue i have is, how would you determine that a homeless person who just arrives in NY is not derserving of shelter and services… but someone who has been here longer IS deserving. this seems to be unworkable. What is the time limit? 6 months living on the streets? 2 years? do you expect the homeless to have passports or some other documentation?

        let’s also remember that 25% of people in the shelter system are employed. they could be your bank teller and/or school security guard (and often are). this is how far the affordable housing crisis has come in NYC.

        • Gayton Gomez says:

          Bruce, what “services” are provided at the 95th street shelter? What “screening” do they do?

        • UWSider says:

          Bruce, ask anyone who lives in the 95th St shelter and you won’t be saying it’s a safe environment anymore. As for supportive services, an audit showed the shelter operator billing the city for services it did not provide. Residents have complained that the “services” are a joke. As far as screening -by law they are not allowed to screen for sex offenders, and they’re across the street from a school.

        • WestSider says:

          its very workable.

          if you last address was in NYC, you can use our taxpayer furnished generous services.

          If just got off the bus, or came here for the sole purpose of mooching our system, then go home. You get nothing and will be arrested for vagrancy and/or aggressive panhandling.

          laws on the books already.

          tough but necessary

    3. Alisa says:

      I have to say, I’m getting a little freaked out by (what I feel is) the increasing homeless population on the UWS especially in light of this recent spat of violent crimes. Last weekend, I went on a walk along Riverside Drive from 72nd to 96th and then back down on Broadway. The number of homeless was staggering to me. The lack of police officers was even more so. I honestly don’t remember the last time I saw a cop on the UWS.

      • PRL says:

        Alisa, you are freaked out for a good reason. In the West 90’s where I live, during the past year there has been a marked increase in homeless people, panhandlers, and loiterers. The neighborhood has taken some giant steps backwards and it’s gotten to the point where I am fearful for my family’s safety. I believe that much of it has to do with the recent proliferation of homeless shelters in an area already over-saturated with them. I agree with Mr. Biller – only an uproar from our community to our elected officials will reverse the tide of bad policies that they’ve foisted upon us. Unfortunately it may take more heinous crimes to get their attention.

    4. Chris says:

      It is remarkable the number of homeless or otherwise shady looking vagrants milling about between 79th and 96th along Broadway. It is very easy to feel uneasy, especially later at night.

      What is even more remarkable is that nobody seems to be very interested in dealing with it. Our politicians seem quite comfortable turning the UWS in to one big homeless shelter, whether in a 95th street building or on the sidewalks, and the cops have better things to do.

      Time to move downtown, perhaps. I am not interested in having my wife / children dodging mentally disturbed vagrants on the way to school or the deli.

    5. geoff says:

      i want to point out something: in the seventies and eighties, the uws was much like it is today except for the wealth of its residents which was, on average, lower.

      there were plenty of homeless people, so many in fact that eventually rudy giuliani kicked them all out. at the time, people were wondering how he did it, as in ‘where did they go?’

      i remember a crew who used to sleep on the sidewalk hot air vent on the south side of central savings bank, now apple bank, at 73 and broadway. suddenly they were gone.

      as we can now see, giuliani’s plan didn’t really work and if the problem is to be remedied, it needs a fresh, compassionate approach.

      then, it will be newsworthy.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        nicely said

      • westSider says:

        Ummm actually you said it yourself.

        It did work.

        We did not have to live with sometimes dangerous vagrants at our doorstep.
        Ironically , it is your so called friend of the rich Mayor Bloomberg who brought us back to this sad state of affairs.

    6. Lee Stringer says:

      The problem is that when we get headlines like this, the immediate assupmtion is that the people involved did what they did because they are homeless, or that their acts were reflective of the homeless population as a whole.
      Criminals and the mentally ill exist within all demographic groups and yes they can sometimes do some disturbing things.
      The issue, therefore, is not about what to do regarding the homelessness. It’s about what to do about crime and about effectively addressing menhtal illnes.

    7. Albert Garibay says:

      Very very sick to do this is upon a person is pure evil.