New York - Four teenagers suspected of taking turns raping an 18-year-old woman at gunpoint at a Brooklyn playground after ordering her father to leave her side were taken into custody on Sunday, the police said.
The brazen attack on Thursday night, which the police said was carried out by the four teenagers along with another young man who remains at large, set off waves of fear and uncertainty in the Brownsville neighborhood where it happened. Elected officials also questioned whether the police notified the public quickly enough after the attack, a suggestion that the Police Department strongly contested.
Two teenagers, ages 14 and 15, were turned in to police custody by their parents; the two others, ages 15 and 17, were apprehended by the authorities, the police said. Charges against them were pending.
The developments came a day after the police released a surveillance video of the young men entering a deli before the rape. The woman’s father went to summon help when he was driven away, but before he could return with police officers the young men had run off into the darkness.
“It forces you to think differently about your own neighborhood,” said Alethea Pierce, who has lived in the area for 43 years.
The police said five young men, one of them armed, walked up to the father and daughter at Osborn Playground at around 9:10 p.m. on Thursday. The father and daughter told the police they had been at the playground drinking beer, a Police Department official said on Sunday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation.
Many questions about the assault and its aftermath remained difficult to account for. The father ran to get help, but the police official said it took him nearly 20 minutes to come upon two officers in a patrol car. By the time the father returned to the playground with the officers, the young men had each raped the woman and fled, the official said.
The Fire Department said a call came in requesting medical help at 9:26 p.m., roughly 16 minutes after the attack started.
In an area filled with public housing high-rises, delis and other stores, it is unclear why the father was not able to get help from bystanders or call the police. The Police Department said in a statement on Sunday night that no one called 911 in connection with the attack, and that the officers “immediately responded and located the victim” after being alerted by the father. They then called for a supervisor and an ambulance, which took the woman to Kings County Hospital Center for treatment. “There was no delay in the police response,” the statement said.
Without other witnesses, investigators began canvassing the area on Friday for video, starting with subway stations and businesses and expanding outward, the police official said. They also conducted a second, more detailed interview with the woman. On Saturday afternoon, investigators found the surveillance video that they released, along with a public notice about the episode, that night.
Mateo Gomez, an attendant at Laida Deli, said that the footage came from his shop and that he recognized the suspects as young men who came to the store most afternoons, sometimes stealing cakes and other snacks.
“They’re bad boys,” he said, shaking his head.
Some neighbors said they knew the playground as a dangerous, late-night hangout spot. The public space has climbing equipment, fenced-in basketball and handball courts, and a blacktop softball field, arranged between a public school and a block of low-rise homes.
On Sunday morning, there was a condom on the ground, near a smashed bottle of vodka, in a secluded corner between a handball wall and a backyard fence.
Several residents, including Ms. Pierce, complained that the park lights were rarely on at night. She already took precautions, carrying a small pocketknife for safety on her way to work past the playground.
The New York City parks department said it was working with the Transportation Department, which maintains park lights, to inspect the lighting.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “disgusted and extremely saddened by the horrific attack.” He added, “Every New Yorker in every neighborhood deserves to feel safe and protected.”
Some neighbors were upset by what they called an unusually long period before a public notice of the attack went out. “Why are we only just hearing about this yesterday?” said Kakeshia Taylor, 27, a mother of three. “This is breaking news. We need to know what’s happening in our neighborhood.”
Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said as a matter of public safety, the Police Department erred in not releasing details of the crime to the public until Saturday night, after nearly 48 hours had passed.
“The N.Y.P.D. should have reported this immediately,” said Mr. Adams, who is a former New York City police captain. “You can’t have a crime of this magnitude and this level of savage behavior and not have the residents of that area become aware of what happened.”
The Police Department official said the local precinct commander had reached out to local leaders about the attack on Friday. He also said the department generally releases public notice after finding and processing video or other leads. In cases where a pattern of criminal behavior and a continuing threat may exist, a notice may be released sooner.
Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, said in a statement, “We have been working closely with the N.Y.P.D. to bring the violent sexual predators who committed this horrific gang rape to justice and will not stop until every one of them is held accountable.”
Bernard Briggs, a city bus driver, said he started to fear the young men who typically fill the playground at night after a run-in a few weeks ago. He had gone to use the men’s room when three men broke away from a group playing basketball to charge the bathroom door, trying to trap Mr. Briggs inside. Mr. Briggs said he fought his way out.
“There’s always young guys in this section; if they feel you’re vulnerable they come after you,” Mr. Briggs, 54, said. “I feel so terrible for the young lady.”