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4 Brooklyn playground gang rape suspects charged, NYPD says

This image from security video at a bodega

This image from security video at a bodega in Brooklyn shows three men wanted by police in connection with an assault on an 18-year-old woman. Photo Credit: AP / New York Police Department

Police charged four teenagers Tuesday with the rape of a Brooklyn woman in a case both Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said should have been made public earlier instead of two days after it happened.

Politicians and community leaders have criticized City Hall over the initial lack of information about the rape, which the NYPD said occurred at about 9 p.m. Thursday. The NYPD issued a news release detailing the allegations late Saturday.

De Blasio said Tuesday he was unaware of the attack until the weekend.

“I should have been informed, certainly on that Friday,” de Blasio said at a City Hall news conference with Bratton about gun prosecutions. “This was an horrific crime, a very unusual crime, and I should have been informed more quickly.”

Police arrested a fifth suspect Tuesday and investigators expected to charge him, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. DNA samples will be sought from the suspects, Boyce said.

Detectives suspect the five approached the 18-year-old woman Saturday night as she walked with her father in Osborne Park in Brownsville. One of the five pulled out a handgun and ordered the father to leave, police said, before the teenagers raped the woman. The father went to a nearby deli, where his attempts to get someone there to call 911 were reportedly rebuffed. He eventually met up with two uniformed NYPD officers and the three returned to the park, officials said.

Police took four of the teenagers into custody Sunday night.

The NYPD identified them Tuesday as Denzel Murray, 14, Shaquell Cooper, 15, Ethan Phillip, 15, and Onandi Brown, 17. All are from Brooklyn, said police. Police did not identify the fifth suspect.

The four were charged with a variety of crimes, including forcible rape and sexual abuse, police said. They were awaiting arraignment Tuesday night.

Bratton said the NYPD should have alerted the public about the alleged attack after it was reported. He said investigators didn’t immediately make the allegations public because they had few details.

“The information we would have put out to the public, initially, would have been extraordinarily minimal: five black males,” Bratton said Tuesday. But the commissioner also admitted that even the release of minimal details might have prompted someone in the community to come forward with leads.

“There is no denying that the department should have — I as police commissioner, the department, our press office — put some information out on Friday,” Bratton said.

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