NYC woman seeking justice for dog's murder tracks down suspect – New York Daily News

A determined dog lover sought personal justice for her murdered dog on Friday, returning to the scene of the crime and coming face to face with the man she blames for the beating death of her golden retriever in a violent confrontation in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
Armed with spunk — and a bottle of pepper spray — Jessica Chrustic, 41, followed the suspected dog killer for 15 minutes, along narrow park paths and streets with wide sidewalks until he suddenly turned the tables and came after her — again — with a can of Mace and a stick.
“I was scared,” she said, recounting the events for the Daily News.
But she was ready to act for Moose, who died in surgery meant to help him recover from a violent beating during the summer.
“Anything and everything that has to do with him causes me a great deal of anxiety,” she said. “I made a pledge to myself and to Moose I would not rest until he was apprehended.”
The death of Moose has become a major issue in Prospect Park, raising broad and often divisive questions about safety, justice, compassion and the city’s treatment of the mentally ill.
Round 2 began shortly before 7 a.m. Friday, when a friend called and told her she had spotted the man outside the park.
“I rolled out of bed and was out the door in less than 60 seconds,” Chrustic said.
Moose, a 2 1/2 year old mix, died after he was attacked along with his owner by a crazed man with a stick in Prospect Park on August 3. (Jessica Chrustic)
She soon caught up with the man. “He was half talking to himself,” Chrustic said. “At one point he said, ‘Why are you following me?’ I did not want to engage with him at all.”
But her plan to keep tabs on the man quickly went awry.
Chrustic said she trailed him from 5th Street into Prospect Park and then to Garfield Place, making calls all the while to 911 and to the detectives who were assigned to her case. While the case remains under investigation, no arrests have been made.
Jessica Chrustic and her golden retriever, Moose. (Jessica Chrustic)
“I was basically just pounding the phone with any number I could think of,” she said. ”He was getting agitated. I was trying to keep my distance.”
The pursuit went on for about 15 minutes. “He took refuge in a brownstone that was getting renovated,” Chrustic said.
She’d lost track of him when he suddenly appeared.
“He came out of nowhere between some cars at full speed. He chased me to 7th, and then to Polhemus. He just came at me with his stick and Mace.
“He pulled out Mace and tried to Mace me.” He also swung his stick at her, cops said.
Chrustic said she also had pepper spray, but it wasn’t working properly. So she ran.
“I’ve run five marathons and I’ve never run faster in my life screaming at the top of my lungs, screaming ‘Help me.’ I was literally running for my life.”
Cops responding to the 911 call arrived after the confrontation. They put her in the back of their police cruiser and searched the area for the man, but he had disappeared.
Police filed a complaint report for menacing, an NYPD spokesman said.
A homeless man in Prospect Park allegedly assaulted Jessica Chrustic and fatally struck her golden retriever, Moose. (Prospect Park Alliance)
On Aug. 3, Chrustic said, she and her pooch Moose were attacked by the man, between Prospect Park’s Picnic House and Villa.
The can collector sprayed them with something from a bottle and then hit her and her dog with a stick. Chrustic suffered minor injuries, but Moose was hurt so badly he needed surgery. He died several days later.
She said the man usually uses the stick to carry his bags of recyclables.
Police said there is “an active investigation.”
Chief of Detectives James Essig said the department’s animal cruelty squad and precinct detectives were working on the case, and that a sketch of the attacker was put in the park.
“We did a lot of work on that,” Essig said. Officers “have gone numerous times out canvassing in the park. We have locations where he might be hanging out. We had a witness who says she knows him from the park. Video from the witness we showed to the complainant. She couldn’t ID him.”
But Chrustic said a detective had told her the case had been closed — until the media got ahold of the story.
Moose, a 2 1/2 year old mix, died after he was attacked along with his owner by a crazed man with a stick in Prospect Park on August 3. (Jessica Chrustic)
The incidents have galvanized neighbors to put pressure on the police to get the man out of the park and off the streets.
“What is it going to take to get this man?” Chrustic said. “And not just for me. They tell me to keep him in my sightline? I’ve done that. I’ve put myself in danger, and for what benefit?
“I don’t know what is going on,” she said. “Obviously I’m devastated. My dog is dead. I’ve been attacked twice. What is going on here? Is it that they just don’t know what to do with him? Is it because he’s mentally ill and they don’t want to deal with him?
“I just wanted to get him out of the park and off the street,” Chrustic said. “I want to be able to leave my house without being terrified and sleep through the night without wondering if I’m going to get a phone call to come identify him. I am really shaken.
“It’s like a nonstop nightmare,” Chrustic said.
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News

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