By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bike Patrol, which has been active in Sunset Park, Park Slope and nearby areas since September 2011, is now on hiatus because Jay “Rocket” Ruiz, the former bicycle messenger and Army veteran who founded the escort service for women, has been hospitalized with a heart attack.
The “Brooklyn Bike Patrol” page on Facebook on Monday carried a message saying, “This is Jay Ruiz President and Founder. This is the most difficult post I'm ever going to make. This past Saturday & Monday I had a heart attack.
“I ride 150-200 miles a week and do 100 pushups a day. I thought it was heartburn! Finally made it to the hospital yesterday after 3 days of vomiting.”
He added that he had to shut down the service. “Remember that I love doing this and I’m very proud of what the BBP has become and all the people we helped,” he said in the Facebook message.
Reached by cell phone at the hospital, Ruiz, identifying himself as “Rocket,” confirmed that he was shutting down the service, but added that he wasn’t doing interviews at the present time.
The patrol got its start during a spree of sexual assaults in Park Slope, the South Slope and Sunset Park in the summer and early fall of 2011. After seeing a video of one violent mugging and assault on TV, Ruiz decided to head to the Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street subway station with a friend. He put up a sign, “Brooklyn Bike Patrol,” displaying his name, cell phone number and email address.
Eventually, the patrol got more volunteers and became active at more subway stations. “We service 28 subway stations. Very soon, we will be expanding to include more stations,” he told a meeting of Community Board 7 in Sunset Park last year. “If you feel threatened late at night, call us. We’ll be there.”
Ruiz was also well-known for his Batman tattoo on his chest, his black-and-neon yellow T-shirt, and his Batman-themed ringtone.
“I’m a lunatic when it comes to Batman,” Ruiz told the Eagle’s Aimee Kudavia in December 2011. “I like what he stands for. He’s a cool cat.” He also had another motivation for his volunteer work.
“Most of the police sketches I saw were of Latino men,” said Ruiz. “I’m Puerto Rican, so I want people to remember me as the good Latino guy.”
Community Affairs Officer Dean Hanan of the 72th Precinct, which includes Sunset Park, said, “His service was good for the community and good for the NYPD. They complement the police – we can’t always be where we want to be, because we’re often responding to 911 police. Just by being at the subway stations late at night to escort women home, they’re raising the [anti-crime] profile.”