Arrest made in Morningside Park rape

October 12, 2011 3:59:50 AM PDT
Police in Manhattan arrested a man in connection with a rape in Morningside Park near Columbus University. Earlier, they released video of the suspect.

Police say 19-year-old Jason Harris was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal sex act.

Scene tape discarded alongside the greenery and tranquility of Morningside Park serves as a jarring reminder that the big city is right next door.

On Sunday evening around 6 p.m., a 29-year-old woman was sexually assaulted as she walked through the park.

"It was scary I happened to come through here to pick up my son and actually it's not a good sight," resident Margie Gomez said.

Police say Harris was captured by a security camera just outside the park, near the intersection of Morningside Drive and West 116th Street.

"I feel bad that happened, but you know, you always got to be careful no matter where you live," resident Denise Hines said. "It doesn't matter."

That thought was echoed by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

His department has been dealing with a rash of sexual assaults in recent months, although none are linked to this attack.

"Rapes are up about 14 percent in the city this year," he said.

Morningside Park is popular with students, faculty and staff from nearby Columbia University, so it's not surprising that a security alert about the incident has been posted on the school's website.