A pregnant woman pushing her 14-month-old daughter in a stroller was mugged at gunpoint in broad daylight in McCarren Park on Tuesday around 5 p.m. We received a tip about the incident yesterday, and we'll let the victim, local resident Rachel Massey, describe the harrowing encounter in her own words:
I had just walked through the park with Olivia towards home (Greenpoint) and had reached the intersection of Bedford and Lorimer. I was heading to meet my sister, and right then she called and said she was at the swings. I turned and followed Lorimer to the swings and she headed towards me. I could see her just as I stopped in front of the opening in the fence to the park (kind of near where they pile the X-mas trees in winter—mid-block). As I paused, a kid, dark, maybe 16, with a red hat and a black hoodie came out of the park to the sidewalk, wielding a gun.
He got right over next to me asked for my phone as he pointed the gun at my pregnant belly, I handed it to him just as my sister reached us. He booked, and I told my sister to call 911, gave the guy about 50 yards, then had some sort of mama bear instinct kick in and started making the biggest scene I'm sure I've ever made in public. A group was filming a movie right at the bathrooms, so I'm quite sure most people thought I was with them, but I kept running and yelling telling everyone within ear shot to chase that kid, hoping a cop would be close enough to grab him.
A whole bunch of folks went after him, and at the tennis courts, and a guy actually caught up with him and confronted him. He retrieved my phone, which at this point I could have cared less about, and let the kid go. By now the cops were back where it all started, and I was winded as hell. I met up with them after telling anyone who came by to ask what happened that a kid with a gun was just in the park, then spent the rest of the evening looking at digital line ups and doing an armed robbery report at the 94th Precinct.
The incident is the latest in a series of high-profile crimes in and around McCarren Park since the pool closed after a turbulent opening season. A homeless man was badly beaten in the park earlier this month, and DNAinfo reports that two teenagers robbed two men at gunpoint blocks from the park early Monday morning. "We are looking into whether they are the two perpetrators from the Monday morning robberies and from the McCarren Park incident," says Deputy Inspector Terence Hurson, commanding officer of the 94th precinct. He added that broad daylight gunpoint robberies are "disturbing, really unusual."
Massey is also disturbed, but she has no illusions about crime in the neighborhood. "I am horrified, but not surprised at all that this happened," Massey says in an email. "As awful and scary and insane as it was, this is always a possibility anywhere at any time in the city, and although it's 100% unacceptable, it reminds me that even when pushing a baby stroller and 4 months pregnant (probably especially) it's so important to be extra careful and aware, even in broad daylight, in the park."