Jogger Slashed in Van Cortlandt Park

A man was slashed while jogging in Van Cortlandt Park on Tuesday night, suffering a 2-inch laceration on his right cheek.

Police say that the victim, identified as Joel Rosario 29, was running in the park, near the Dog Run at about 7:33 p.m., when two males approached him. Rosario told police he felt like one of them had punched in the face before realizing he had been stabbed.

Police described one of the attackers as a black male, about 6-feet tall in his 20’s with a small afro; he was reported as wearing a reddish, hooded sweatshirt. There is no description on the second assailant.

Rosario, who police said was a frequent jogger in that area, declined to go to the hospital. This incident comes on the heels of another slashing at El Economico, a Latin American restaurant at 5589 Broadway on Mar. 20.

“Slashings are up a little bit throughout the city, although not incredibly, they’ve been averaging just under 700 citywide for the yearly average and we are up at 800,” said Captain Terence O’Toole of the 50th Precinct. “It is becoming a media issue and they are becoming pretty horrific.”

He said that most slashings happen between two people that know one another, and there were about 16 random incidents citywide in 2016.

“At El Economico, he was a patron who was thrown out because he was intoxicated, the bar did what they were supposed to do and didn’t serve him any more but he came back with the knife,” O’Toole said. “He slashed the owner, a patron and he also slashed an acquaintance, let’s put it like that, who was trying to restrain him.

O’Toole said the suspect in the El Economico slashing was caught on Mar. 22, the same day as the Van Cortlandt Park incident.

“We don’t know where the other two individuals came from,” he said of the Mar. 22 attack. “They just said something to him and punched him in the face but it appears that from the way his face was cut that he may have had some type of razor or sharp instrument in his hand.”

O’Toole said that he has recently evaluated park crime in order to determine the ne need for regular patrols but said he found very little crime in Van Cortalndt Park.

“Most of the crime that’s in the park is of the grand larceny type, where people leave their money or they leave a bag with a credit in it, it’s lost for a few minutes or a few hours and then someone uses the credit card and then it becomes a grand larceny,” he said. “The parks enforcement people don’t have that many assigned to Van Cortlandt, they just hired some more but I don’t know what their turnover time is to get people into the parks, but I believe they have some in the pipeline.”

O’Toole said that he also works with N.Y.P.D. aerial units to survey the park from above for possible crimes at night, in response to a January rape in the park.

“They fly over at night, use their infrared and if they see people, they will call us, and we will go out there and issue them a summons,” he said. “You don’t get it every day because of weather condition but once or twice a week at least.”