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Man arrested in assault on 11-year-old girl at NYC dog park

Nathaniel Direnzo, 29, (center) faces several charges, including strangulation and assault,...
Nathaniel Direnzo, 29, (center) faces several charges, including strangulation and assault, after he allegedly attacked an 11-year-old girl during a dispute in a New York City dog park.(Source: WABC via CNN)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 4:24 AM CDT
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NEW YORK (WABC) - Police in New York City arrested a 29-year-old man who allegedly attacked an 11-year-old girl and a teenager who came to her aid during a dispute in a dog park.

Nathaniel Direnzo, 29, faces several charges, including strangulation and assault, in the Wednesday incident at Stuyvesant Square Park in Manhattan. The incident apparently stemmed from a dispute between pet owners at a dog park and the students who use the park for recess.

Authorities say an 11-year-old girl was at the park with classmates when one dog owner approached and began yelling at them for throwing popping objects that may have been scaring the dogs.

Video shows the kids seemingly throw dirt at the yelling dog owner, and the girl appears to try several times to attack him. Police say when the girl fought back, the man grabbed her hair and punched her in the left side of her face. He also allegedly wrapped his hands around her neck and began strangling her.

Her 15-year-old classmate tried to intervene and was also struck.

Other dog owners got involved, and the man eventually left the park. The 11-year-old was taken to the hospital in stable condition, while the teenage boy was treated at the scene.

Police later released photos of the suspect in hopes of making an arrest. Direnzo was arrested Saturday.

The other dog owners say Direnzo had no right to attack a child, but they also say the kids shouldn’t be acting the way they do around dogs.

Multiple witnesses say people who use the park have been concerned about Direnzo and his treatment of other people and his own dog.

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