The NYPD in Pursuit of Asa Robert

NYPD on Madison, viewed from across the park on Monroe

NYPD on Madison, viewed from across the park on Monroe

Channel 7 reporting on the scene.

Channel 7 reporting on the scene.

I believe that's News 7 reporter Carolina Leid on the scene.

I believe that's News 7 reporter Carolina Leid on the scene.

July 18, 2015

When I stepped out from the gym at 8pm, I saw an NYPD surveillance helicopter hovering over the neighborhood. It stationed an eye above Madison at Patchen, about a block away from my apartment.

NYPD shut down the block with the presence of about 10 police vehicles and some from the NYFD. Nothing was to be seen on the local news, heard on the street, or read on the Twitter that explained the situation. Little changed over the next few hours. 

Later in the evening, information trickled in. Everything I learned I learned from Twitter, through tweets from other people in the neighborhood. The helicopter was providing eyes on the scene where police believed they again cornered, after he escaped them twice before,18 year-old Asa Roberts, alleged rapist of an 82 year-old woman. Nobody knew this at the time. Nobody around knew what was happening. If they did, they weren't talking about it. 

At 11:30pm, news crews were arriving and worked to find the story. From what I heard them saying off camera, and the conversation I had with a Daily News reporter at the perimeter of the crime scene tape, it's unclear if Roberts was here at all. Cops were saying little. I watched officers in the tactical gear stand down, dress down. They muttered things about going home. Twitter assumed that the NYPD had failed to catch their man, that this was all just overkill for a wild goose chase. 

While we slept, they nabbed him. He'd been there all night. Channel 7's story:

18-year-old Asa Robert is now facing numerous charges including rape, robbery, assault, burglary, criminal sexual act, strangulation, unlawful imprisonment, endangering the welfare of an elderly person, petit larceny, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, and criminal possession of stolen property.

Robert was caught climbing a fence in the rear of a school under construction on Madison Street just before 4 a.m, police say.

Police had been watching the building after a large scale search Thursday night turned up empty. But a bloody shoe believed to belong to the suspect was recovered during that search.

...

Detectives then tracked Robert to a girlfriend's Bedford Stuyvesant apartment. When they arrived Thursday night, police say he jumped out a window and down a fire escape, sparking an all night manhunt.

He was running backyard to backyard, jumping fences with police in pursuit, according to investigators. Hours later, police caught up with him on the same street, after numerous members of the community spotted him and called in tips.

Robert was caught climbing a fence in the rear of a school under construction on Madison Street just before 4 a.m, police said.

I wonder if those numerous members of the community who knew things, the people who were reporting tips to the police about Robert's location, knew to keep those things off Twitter to prevent tipping off Roberts. 

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