Police said they have apprehended a "very dangerous young man" who they believe is responsible for two sexual assaults whose victims were chosen at random.
DNA matches and suspect lineups led police to charge Nashane Peterkin, a 16-year-old high school student from Springfield Gardens, in a rape and attempted sexual assault in Valley Stream.
"We have not had a this type of situation [in Nassau County] in quite some time where the victims are randomly selected...It was very concerning," said Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki in a press conference Monday afternoon.
Peterkin is believed to be responsible for two violent assaults on women in Valley Stream. On Aug. 12, a 30-year-old woman was walking home from the Valley Stream train station when she said she was grabbed inappropriately from behind, then knocked down and punched in the face as her attacker tried to rip her shirt off.
In a second attack, a woman in her 60's was walking alone on a hiking trail in Valley Stream when she was attacked and raped, cops said. The attack happened at 11:10 a.m. Sept. 1, police reported.
Skrynecki said they are still investigating the possible connection to a Lynbrook push-in burglary where a suspect inappropriately grabbed a female homeowner and tried to choke her.
Skrynecki added they believe Peterkin is a "very dangerous young man" whose arrest brought "relief to the communities he preyed on."
Because of the lack of pattern and seemingly random selection of victims, Skrynecki said patrols were stepped up and the department was on high alert.
"This is extremely unique and extremely rare," said Skrynecki. "In fact, any type of...serial sexual predator events in Nassau County is very rare."
Several departments came together in cracking the case, including NYPD, Special Victims Unit, New York State Police, and the Nassau County District Attorney's office. Peterkin was arrested in Howard Beach Sunday morning.
The crimes Peterkin allegedly committed were "very much sexually motivated" rather than robbery, Skrynecki said. So far, police have not confirmed what led Peterkin to Nassau County. Skrynecki said Nassau County is collaborating with NYPD to see if there are any other open cases that could be connected to Peterkin.
Police said Peterkin used no weapons and investigations have indicated there were no accomplices. Until now, police said he had no criminal history but would not specify if he had served time as a juvenile.
Peterkin will return to court Wednesday and will face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He will be charged as an adult in the crimes as New York State law mandates.