A sexual assault suspect fired on officers late Sunday night, kicking off a pursuit that lasted early into the morning and turned up no results.
(UPDATE [1:49 p.m.]: Police have released a photo of the suspect, Norman Vanigas, posted above. There is a $12,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.)
A helicopter circled the area from approximately 11:30 p.m. and police cars and foot patrols swarmed the streets around Shore Parkway and East 14th Street, where the attack is believed to have occurred.
Shortly before midnight, officers received a report that a woman in her 20s had been sexually assaulted near Shore Parkway and East 14th Street, police said. As cops canvassed the area, they encountered the suspect, who fled the area on foot.
“The suspect did at one point turn around and fire something in the general direction of the officers,” a police source said. “It’s unknown if it was a firearm or a pellet gun or a firecracker. It did make a noise of some sort.”
The suspect was not caught, despite that the search went on until at least 2:00 a.m., according to neighbors who live in the area.
The increased level of police activity was first reported by Sheepshead Bites, drawing residents in the area who helped fill neighbors in.
One reader, Mickie W., sent in the following report:
However according to sources on the ground in Zephyr’s Superette, the commotion began with an attempted rape in or near Brighton Beach during which the perpetrator pulled a gun and fired a round either at or within the vicinity of law enforcement, prompting an intense neighborhood wide manhunt. The target of air and ground search were trees and bushes along the elevated tracks running between Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. An individual was allegedly taken into custody for identification and questioning but again, no confirmation from police. Air and foot support appeared to stand down around 2 a.m. although the command vehicles stationed on east 14th and 15th Streets remained.
A commenter on the original post added:
I live on Ocean & X my fiance and I were stopped by officers while walking our dog. They asked for identification and let us go. I can still hear the helicopters circling the area. Hope they find who they are looking for.
Reader Andrew Kent was following chatter on the police scanner, submitting the following:
They were looking for someone supposedly hiding in a dumpster behind Reynolds, but now they’re trying to get access to the school to search. The original call may have come from a porter inside the school.
Another resident living near the focal area of the search described part of the scene:
They circled over shore parkway and east 13th & Homecrest for about 40 minutes. A police van drove over a pile of garbage as though they were trying to scare somebody who was hiding in the pile and then walking officers came over and kicked the trash cans.
More officers were searching the bushes behind a building on Homecrest. Helicopter is still flying in the vicinity of the Belt Parkway and East 14th street.
And here’s a little more info from a reader that helps pinpoint the location:
E12th has half of the block closed off with yellow tape … from what the cops are saying shots happened right under the bridge on Neptune side.