Today’s news:

Suspect, 23, arrested in two Far Rock rapes

After a quick investigation and outcry from the southeast Queens community, police arrested Malcolm Johnson, 23, of Beach 59th Street Tuesday night in connection with two sexual assaults near the suspects home last week.

The back-to-back attacks galvanized neighborhood residents who marched through Beach Channel Drive Saturday morning and rallied outside Macedonia Baptist Church on Beach 67th Street, where the first incident took place Oct. 27, police said.

Nearly 24 hours later, Johnson allegedly sexually assaulted a 21-year-old 11 blocks away, according to the police.

“I’m concerned about the ladies coming home late at night. I take the train late sometimes and it is frightening,” said Brenda Williams, 49, a member of the Far Rockaway branch of the NAACP, who attended the rally.

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) joined Queens Patrol Borough South’s commanding officer, Chief Thomas Dale, and members of the NYPD’s Special Victim’s Unit at the church Saturday to brief everyone on the situation.

In the first incident Oct. 27, Johnson approached the 25-year-old victim at gunpoint as she was getting off the A train around 3 a.m., at the Beach 67th Street station, police said. He took her to the church’s lot, where he allegedly sexually assaulted and robbed her, according to investigators.

In the second incident, the suspect approached his victim from behind at gunpoint at Beach 56th Street, took her to a nearby empty building where he sexually assaulted her and took her purse, police said.

Dale told community members that the NYPD had done DNA tests and matched the suspect to the victims in both incidents. Johnson was arrested Tuesday afternoon and awaiting arraignment as of press time Tuesday afternoon.

Sanders said the suspect defiled the community not only because he not only allegedly hurt two innocent women, but also because he carried out his acts on church property.

“We need a prayer. This place needs a prayer,” he said during the rally.

Dale said 50 additional police officers were added to the late night shift to help find the rapist.

Police said that last year a string of 12 sexual assaults was committed throughout various locations in southeast Queens by two men who were never apprehended. Smith said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly informed him the recent incidents were not linked to the 2008 sexual assaults.

He implored women in the area to be mindful of their surroundings during the night and day.

“We are on top of it and they should be careful,” the senator said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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