A woman whose dog died after a vicious attack by a homeless man in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and was then maced by the same man two months later has decried rising crime in New York in an explosive interview.
Speaking to Fox News, 41-year-old Jessica Chrustic said that she ‘never felt unsafe’ in the city until her beloved golden retriever mix Moose was beaten with a stick and killed in August last year.
New York Police Department confirmed this week that the force is yet to make an arrest in the case, which has sparked intense discourse among wealthy Park Slope residents about policing in the crime-ridden city.
Moose died days after he was brutally beaten by still-unidentified homeless man, who woke locals rushed to defend – arguing the suspect, who is black, was ‘vulnerable’ and therefore should not be arrested.
According to neighbors in the affluent area, the suspect lived in the park and has been spotted several times since but has not been arrested.
Chrustic revealed that in October, two months after burying her canine companion, she ran into the homeless man again and he sprayed mace all over her. Despite calling 911 for help, Chrustic says the man was not arrested.
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Appearing for an interview six months after the incident that saw her dog slain, 41-year-old Jessica Chrustic said that she ‘never felt unsafe’ in New York until her beloved golden retriever’s death at the hands of a crazed homeless man on August 3
Moose died days after he was brutally beaten by still-unidentified homeless man, and succumbed to both sepsis and internal wounds five days later
‘This shouldn’t have had to come to this,’ an emotional Chrustic told Fox in the just-released interview. ‘I shouldn’t have had to be attacked twice.’
Chrustic – a marathon runner who has lived in New York for two decades – described the initial encounter with the homeless man on August 3 that left her beloved Moose mortally wounded – when the vagrant also sprayed her with a bottle of urine.
The dog died of sepsis five days later – leading to intense debate among locals as to what should be done with the suspect, who Chrustic said she had seen muttering to himself in the park many times before, often carrying a garbage bag and a long, thick walking stick.
Chrustic described how he had suddenly run up to her and Moose during what would be, unbeknownst to her, the pair’s final walk together.
‘When I turned around, Moose was then trying to protect me,’ the New Yorker said, tearing up at times. ‘I just wanted to protect my dog, and my dog was trying to protect me.’
She described how she immediately tried to get her dog away from the suspect, who, unprovoked, had started swinging his stick at the loyal mutt.
While rushing Moose up some stairs, Chrustic said, she felt the stick strike her across the lower back, with another blow, hitting Moose straight across the face.
She added that during the attack, the man took out a Gatorade bottle and started spraying liquid on her, which she later realized to be urine.
On Tuesday, Chrustic revealed that months after burying her canine companion she ran into the homeless man (believed to be pictured her in a photo taken by a passerby) again, spurring her to again call 911. Months after this second encounter, cops have yet to make an arrest
Chrustic escaped significant injury, but Moose had a shattered tooth, and later died of sepsis from a perforated intestine.
Chrustic recalled how the dog, who was just two years old, died trying to protect her.
Within minutes, bicyclists and walkers stopped to help, but the suspect had already taken off, Chrustic said, recalling how she briefly spoke to police before rushing Moose to the veterinarian, where he would succumb to his wounds five days later.
Chrustic went on to describe the outpouring of support she received from neighbors and other residents , with many telling her that they had encountered the suspect before, with some sharing photos of the man.
Chrustic recalled how the dog, who was just two years old, died trying to protect her, while decrying the city’s crime-ridden state – and cops’ failure to arrest the suspect six months later
Police, however, would still fail to make an arrest, as many in famously liberal enclave found issue with sending police after a homeless black man who appeared to be suffering from some sort of mental malady.
In October, Chrustic revealed, she received a call from an elderly woman who witnessed the first attack, reporting she had sighter the suspect again in the park.
After receiving the call, Chrustic said she rushed out of bed to the park, phoning both 911 and a sergeant assigned to her case while en route.
When she arrived, she said she spotted a cop car and frantically tried to get the attention of officers inside.
Instead of heeding the woman’s calls, Chrustic said, the unnamed officers ‘waved [her] away.’
Chrustic’s case has since divided Park Slope residents, with some calling for a manhunt and others calling for compassion for the suspect, due to his being black and mentally unwell
An avid runner, Chrustic described how she proceeded to give chase to the attacker, running around the park until she caught up with him.
At that point, she said, the man again accosted her, running at her with a can of mace, spraying her all over body.
Recounting the second, traumatic altercation to Fox, she said the attack spurred her to briefly retreat, before quickly resuming her pursuit while repeatedly dialing 911.
Again catching up with the suspect, Chrustic said the man eventually stopped and attacked her with the same walking stick he used to kill Moose. Upon seeing the weapon, Chrustic said she became to distraught to pursue the man further.
‘It’s the same thing he killed Moose with,’ she recalled, appearing increasingly emotional as she relived the second encounter. And he’s chasing me down the street full speed,’ she said.
‘After that, I was like, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.”‘
Recounting a second, traumatic altercation with the man that happened in October, she said the man again attacked her with the same walking stick he used to kill Moose, triggering a bout of PTSD. Despite calling cops several times during the encounter, they failed to make an arrest
It was not until 40 minutes later that police, finally responding to the frantic woman’s calls for help, would arrive – spurring the chief officer from the neighborhood’s presiding precinct to issue a statement in apparent apology.
‘We may have dropped the ball,’ 78th Precinct Commanding Officer Frantz Souffrant conceded in the days after the October 21 attack, during a virtual meeting attended outraged residents.
The incident spurred some residents to form a neighborhood watch dubbed the Park Slope Panthers, as police balked from making an arrest
The case has since divided Park Slope residents, with some calling for an all-out manhunt for the attacker, and others insisting that social justice concerns called for compassion.
‘Since the incident the NYPD has continuously taken investigative measures to bring the individual responsible to justice,’ the department said at the time.
‘The NYPD has conducted canvasses of the park with witnesses, posted images of the suspect and increased patrols in the area.’
The debate played out on neighborhood apps such as NextDoor, where some users were appalled at the calls to arrest the suspect.
One neighbor, Martin Lofsnes, posted urging neighbors to consider ‘400 yrs of systematic racism which has prevented black people from building generational wealth through homeownership resulting in the extreme disparity we see today.’
‘It’s easy to say that you’re for prison reform and you’re a liberal, until it happens to you,’ Lofsnes told the New York Times in October, around the time Chustic said she again ran into the unstable suspect.
‘When it happens to you, you have to deal with it. You have to take a step back, even in that heated situation where her dog died, and say, ‘What does this do in the larger scheme of things?’ he added.
Other neighbors, outraged at the attack, made an ill-fated attempt to form a neighborhood watch patrol they dubbed the Park Slope Panthers.
‘Do we want to organize a community safety patrol, and take our park back? Think what the Guardian Angels did to take back the subways in the 70s/early 80s,’ wrote Panthers organizer Kristian Nammack, 59, in a social media post announcing the group. ‘We may also get to wear cool berets. I’m being serious.’
Nammack, a financial consultant who attended the 2008 Occupy Wall Street protests and describes his politics as ‘left of Lenin’, said they organized the group to clean up the neighborhood.
Police released this sketch of the suspect. Area residents say they frequently see the man in Prospect Park but claim the NYPD has done little to apprehend him
‘The goal is to be eyes and ears and to take our neighborhood back,’ read a call to action on MeetUp.
However, the Panthers disbanded after a single chaotic meeting, also in October, which was disrupted by protesters, who accused the mostly-white group of appropriating their name from the Black Panthers, and of supporting a racist police state.
Days after Chrustic’s second run-in with the homeless man, she said she sought help from her city council representative, Shahana Hanif.
A spokesperson for the councilor later told The New York Times that the police should not be called in to flush out the perpetrator, and that the NYPD was not ‘the vehicle to bring safety to our community.’
Despite this assertion from her local rep – coupled with other residents’ support for the attacker in the wake of protests in 2020 over the murder of George Floyd – Chrustic said she continued to besiege cops to pursue the perpetrator.
Sitting in her apartment with Mooses’s toys still littering the background – days after the NYPD insisted the investigation is still ongoing but have yet to make an arrest – the brooklyn resident conceded that she felt as if Moose’s killer will likely go unpunished.
‘I gave them exactly where he slept, exactly where he stayed,’ she said. ‘He’s [known by] everybody in the community. It was never a question of being able to find him.’
Sitting in her apartment with her late pup’s toys still littering the background – days after the NYPD insisted the investigation is still ongoing but have yet to make an arrest – Chrustic conceded that Moose’s killer will likely go unpunished.
Holding back tears, she said: ‘Unfortunately, I think it’s gonna take someone else to be assaulted to have it be closed.’ She added that in all the 20 years shes lived in New York, she’s never felt ‘so unsafe’.
Meanwhile, residents continue to report sightings of the homeless man who committed the heinous act still out roaming the streets and the park.
A spokesperson for NYPD on Wednesday confirmed the investigation is ‘ongoing’ and that an arrest will be made ‘when a positive identification can be made.’
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