On September 13, Jay “Rocket” Ruiz was watching a newscast about the spree of sexual assaults in the Park Slope area when the came on.
The brutal assault—caught on camera outside of a residence between Fourth and Fifth avenues—intensified by the woman’s blood curdling scream and the fact that no one came to the woman’s rescue, almost brought Ruiz to tears.
Enraged that someone would attack a woman, Ruiz immediately pounded out 100 push-ups, and as he regained his composure, he got an idea.
“‘What if every woman was safely escorted home?’” Ruiz recounted to Patch what he said to his wife that night in their Prospect Heights home.
“‘I can do this. I can hop on my bike, bring women home and then they wouldn’t be attacked,’” Ruiz said, who rides his bike about 26 miles everyday—11 miles round-trip to work and about 15 miles each night while escorting women for his volunteer-run organization, Brooklyn Bike Patrol. “I can make this happen.”
And then the next night, Sept. 14, he did.
Ruiz hopped on his Trek 4300 4 Series hard tail, went to Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street subway station with a friend and held a sign that read: “Brooklyn Bike Patrol” with his name, phone number and E-mail address underneath.
“At first people thought we were crazy and didn’t know if we were good guys or bad guys up to no good,” Ruiz said, who was a rubber-burning bike messenger in Manhattan for 10 years.
Then, serendipitously, a News 12 van pulled up and interviewed him about what he was doing. A few minutes later, a New York Daily News reporter came out of the train, took his picture and also wrote a story on him.
After that first night, Brooklyn Bike Patrol (BBP) was on its way to being a reputable, reliable and well-known escort service for women who are afraid to walk home after dark, especially in the midst of .
BBP, which started their service with 11 volunteers at only 11 subway stations, has since expanded to 35 locations to cover Bed-Stuy, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace and now, as of Monday, Jan. 30, Borough Park along the D line at five different stations.
With any where between five to 20 escorts per night, BBP walks women to their homes seven days a week. Monday through Thursday the crew is on call from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
All a woman needs to do is call, text, E-mail or send a Facebook message to BBP (contact information below) and tell them where and when they need to be picked up and they’ll meet you.
“We are dedicated to the safety of the women of Brooklyn,” Ruiz said. “We want to keep our women safe. We will be out here every single day until the attacks on women stop happening.”
When the string of attacks began (), a 30-year-old Gowanus resident, named Gabrielle (who only wanted to give her first name), noticed that a culture of fear had started to fester in her neighborhood and throughout Brooklyn. She said she knows women, including herself, who were so affected by the sexual assaults that they were “too petrified” to go out at night.
But, then she said, Ruiz came along and the notion of fear dissipated.
“He noticed that there was a hole in the system and he decided to take action,” said Gabrielle, who has relied on BBP once a week since September to get home safe. “He has the best intentions and genuinely cares for the wellbeing of the women of our community.”
Ruiz said that the disturbing video of the March attack is what propelled him to step up and protect the women of his borough—he has lived in Prospect Heights almost his whole life. But when the started circulating, he became even more motivated.
“When those sketches came out, they all looked Latino. It was extra motivation for me, as a Latino man, to do good,” Ruiz said, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico. “I want people to see my face and know that a Latino man is doing good.”
But even still, his urge to fight against what’s wrong is in his blood.
His father, Ruben Ruiz, who passed in 2006, was a 250-pound professional wrestler in the Latin circuit. His alias was “El Bronco” and was known for crushing his opponents in the ring.
El Bronco taught him how to be a man and how to treat women an early age.
“‘Jay, be protective of the woman in your life, your mother and your sisters,’” Ruiz remembered his father telling him when he was five years old. “‘Whatever you do, never hit a girl.’”
And Jay took heed in his father’s advice, for he protects women during his free time and takes on an alias of his own.
Just like a superhero, when he gets off work at 5 p.m., he changes into his gear—a neon yellow bike jacket emblazoned with “Brooklyn Bike Patrol,” spandex pants with shorts on top, black Nikes, Fox BMX gloves and a helmet with a Batman sticker. Jay becomes “Rocket Ruiz.”
One day, when he was a 26-year-old bike messenger—three years after leaving the Army as a Corporeal—he dropped off a delivery at Canal Street and had to head back up to headquarters on 86th Street and Broadway. He was in a time crunch, but he made that trip in 11 minutes.
At one point during the ride, he grabbed on to the fender of a taxi going 55 miles per hour, what messengers call, “catching a wave.” His colleagues couldn’t believe how fast he made the trip, and ever since he was dubbed “Rocket Ruiz.”
But Rocket also has another influence for his nocturnal crime-fighting tendencies: Batman. He has a tattoo of the Bat symbol on his chest, his ring-back tone is the cave-dwelling millionaire’s theme song and he recently bought a pair of Batman underwear.
“Batman has no super powers, but he’s out there protecting people because he wants to and he doesn’t expect anything in return,” Ruiz said as he spread his arms as if he was wearing a black cape. “That’s just like us: we don’t have superpowers, but we’re here to protect our women.”
Like Batman, BBP’s relies heavily on sidekicks. They have strong ties with the community boards, the police, churches, anti-violence and neighborhood watch organizations.
During the first couple of weeks, a woman asked Ruiz, “How can I trust you?” Realizing that all they had to identify themselves was their word and a Facebook page, Ruiz reached out to the NYPD.
Ruiz and his 11 volunteers went to the 72nd Police Precinct and went through a background check, which all of the “gentlemen,” what Ruiz calls his volunteers, “passed with flying colors.”
As the volunteer group started to gain momentum, the community started to return the favor through donations.
St. Francis Xavier church on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, donated 25 yellow T-shirts emblazoned with “Brooklyn Bike Patrol” and , a bicycle shop in Gowanus, offers free maintenance for all BBP’s bikes.
In October, State Senator Eric Adams donated 15 neon yellow bike jackets to the organization. The jackets, which are made by cycle clothing company named Endura, were bought from on Fifth Avenue, which gave them a 15 percent discount.
But Ruiz and the BBP are not volunteering their time to get in the newspaper or to get free clothes. They are protecting the women of Brooklyn because they care and they believe they can make a difference.
“We are that service that takes away the ‘IF’ factor. ‘What happens if a man approaches me and I’m all alone?’” Ruiz explained right before he hopped on his bike to meet a client. “Brooklyn Bike Patrol is here and nothing is going to happen.”
If you need to coordinate a safe walk home call, E-mail or Facebook. Also, BBP is looking for five more volunteers. If you are interested, reach out to Jay Ruiz through the information below: