A 24-year-old convicted felon and known gang member is accused of attacking, choking and trying to sexually assault an 89-year-old woman in Stratford, and police said he also stalked and harassed another woman in town.
Police took Jose Enrique Correa into custody Tuesday morning while he was walking on Granfield Avenue in Bridgeport, where he has reportedly been staying.
Correa is a convicted felon and member of the Latin Kings gang who was out on parole at the time of the attack, according to police.
He's facing a string of charges, including criminal attempt to commit murder, first-degree strangulation, criminal attempt to commit aggravated sexual assault in the first degree, first-degree assault on an elderly person, first-degree unlawful restraint and first-degree criminal trespass.
Correa is accused of assaulting the elderly woman just before 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8 on Canaan Road in Stratford. Neighbors said the woman was gardening in her front yard when she was grabbed from behind.
The victim told police Correa clutched her blouse and dragged her into a shed in her yard. She elbowed him, but he put her in a "head lock" and choked her until she was "unable to scream any longer" and couldn't see out of her right eye, then lost consciousness, according to the warrant for Correa's arrest.
"I thought I was dying," the victim reportedly told police.
All the while, Correa was trying to sexually assault her, and when the victim came to, he was performing a lewd act over her, the arrest warrant says.
The victim's son arrived and saw his mother down on the ground with Correa hovering over her. He realized Correa was attacking her and pulled him off, according to the warrant. The two began fighting, then Correa broke free and fled.
The victim was taken to Bridgeport Hospital and has since been released. She and Correa did not know each other prior to the attack.
Neighbors said the victim's eye was badly injured and she was bruised but in good spirits. The victim's daughter told police her mother was also suffering from a hoarse voice, neck pain and headaches, according to the arrest warrant.
Correa's sister defended him Wednesday and said she believes he is innocent.
"I mean, I know my brother," said Zelines Pou-Correa. "He's done a lot of things in his life, but this is something that my brother would never do. ... I'm going to defend him, and I know my brother is not this type of person."
But police said it's not the first time Correa has posed a threat to older women in the area.
On May 2, less than a week before the attack, a 59-year-old resident of Raymond Street called 911 to report a strange man lurking outside her home, according to the warrant.
The resident told police she had been receiving harassing phone calls from the man, who identified himself as "John Olmo," for several weeks, and said he approached her outside her house and kissed her on both cheeks, the warrant says.
That man reportedly turned out to be Correa, who was staying at John Olmo's apartment in Bridgeport. Olmo told police Correa had disappeared around the time of the Canaan Road assault and was supposed to go to drug rehab but never showed up, according to the arrest warrant.
He's charged with second-degree stalking and second-degree harassment of the 59-year-old woman, along with second-degree breach of peace.
Correa has been convicted of several previous crimes, including larcenies, narcotics offenses, violation of parole and evading an officer, according to the arrest warrant.
He's being held without bail in connection with the assault on the elderly victim, the arrest warrant says. Correa appeared in court May 14 and both cases were continued to June 3.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked call the Stratford Police Investigative Unit at 203-385-4119 or the Stratford police tip line 203-375-TIPS (8477).