Cops have collared a homeless man in the shocking rape of a woman in Central Park.
Paulie Velez, 25, was nabbed at 12:50 a.m. Saturday, the NYPD said. He’s now charged with rape, robbery, strangulation, assault, sex abuse and criminal possession of stolen property, authorities said.
Velez, clad in a knit hat, white T-shirt, jeans and a black surgical mask, said nothing as cops led him out of the Fifth Precinct station house to a waiting unmarked car early Saturday. He is expected to be arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court.
Velez allegedly approached the 27-year-old victim from behind as she ran on a footpath near the pond in the park’s southeastern corner at around 7:20 a.m. Thursday, placing her in a chokehold until she lost consciousness and raping her, police said.
Velez was seen wearing black pants and shirts, with a black baseball cap and mask to match, as he entered a train station through an open emergency exit door — beating the fare, according to security footage released by the NYPD.
The victim reached out to a passerby for help, and was taken to a hospital, NYPD Inspector Michael King said at a Thursday briefing, adding there would be increased patrols in the Manhattan park after the attack.
Just 25 minutes later, a man who was released from state prison earlier this week allegedly tried to rape a 54-year-old jogger on Randall’s Island, before he was scared off by a bystander, sources said.
Registered sex offender Howard Shaw, 38, was charged in that attack.