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Cops seek help identifying Patchogue attacker

Suffolk police Wednesday asked the public to help identify a man wanted in connection with a sexual assault of a woman who was walking on Main Street in Patchogue when she was dragged into a wooded area and attacked.

The 24-year-old woman, whom authorities did not identify because she is a victim of a sexual crime, told police she was walking from her home to a friend's home at about 3:15 a.m. Saturday when a man grabbed her from behind and pulled her into a grassy area between West and River avenues, where he attacked her and robbed her.

Police released a grainy black-and-white image of the man they described as a "person of interest." The man, police said, is in his late teens to early 20s, tall with a thin build.

He was wearing a black T-shirt, dark jeans and a wool ski cap. The man's image, taken from a surveillance camera, was captured before the attack.

"Further video shows him walking down the street, a distance behind the victim," Deputy Insp. Thaddeus Nieves said at a news conference outside the Fifth Precinct in Patchogue.

Nieves declined to describe the attack and he said police do not have additional details.

The woman walked to her friend's house, Nieves said, and they called 911. Police said the woman had cuts, bruises and a broken nose. She was treated at a hospital and released.

"This is an isolated incident," he said. "We have no other incidents in the area that have anything in common with this. So, it appears, at this point, to be an individual crime of opportunity."

Bars, night clubs and other venues in Patchogue and the surrounding neighborhoods draw large out-of-town crowds in the summer, said Fifth Precinct Commander Aristedes Mojica.

"You could have several thousand people in Patchogue on a given night," he said.

Since Memorial Day, the start of the summer season, extra police officers, anywhere from three to 15, are assigned to patrol Patchogue from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Mojica said. There were five additional officers assigned to Patchogue on the day of the attack.

"Obviously, you know, this is disturbing that this happened despite the expanded coverage," said Mojica.

Police asked anyone with information to call the Fifth Squad at 631-854-8552 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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