A total of six male juveniles have now been arrested in connection with a series of related robberies and assaults that occurred on and near campus last month, according to University Police. The suspects have been positively identified in two of the incidents, an assault near 40th and Pine streets and an April 5 assault on Locust Walk.
Two additional suspects are under investigation, and warrants for their arrests are pending. The group of eight individuals, all local male residents aged between 14 and 17, is also believed to have been involved in a total of approximately seven separate incidents, including three robberies and several simple assaults, that allegedly occurred in the early hours of April 19 and 20, mainly on the 4000 and 4100 blocks of Pine Street.
Five of these same suspects allegedly assaulted a University student on the 3600 block of Locust Walk and were stopped by police, but were released because the victim at first claimed that he was surrounded and verbally harassed and only later added that he was physically assaulted, according to Deputy Chief of Investigations Bill Danks.
Police then apprehended and arrested two of them on April 26, in addition to one more suspect, in connection with an April 20 assault.
All of the individuals who have already been arrested face misdemeanor charges, including simple assault, endangering another person' life, conspiracy to commit a crime and terroristic threats. One of the suspects for whom a warrant is pending could face charges for aggravated assault, which is a felony.
Police were able to connect the eight individuals by re-opening the investigation into the Locust Walk incident after the series of assaults that followed on April 19 and 20.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that while "they're not an organized group," the suspects are "a group of guys who hang out together" and are "all from the same neighborhood." Danks added that two of the suspects may be cousins.
"We are arresting out of the same pool of individuals on the other four incidents," Danks said. "It's the same group of guys."
The majority of the victims have been male University students, police said. Although none of the victims suffered major injuries, one required treatment for lacerations and bruises at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Rush said that there has been a rise in juvenile crime throughout the city recently.
"We see the trends," Rush said. "We've seen this coming."
In response to this, University Police plans to take steps throughout the summer in an attempt to prevent local juveniles from falling into criminal activity.
We want "to find out how in our pocket of the world we can hopefully make some differences in the kids' lives who are maybe on the verge of joining these eight guys," Rush said, noting that police plan to revamp and expand the Police Athletic League as one part of this effort.
"We've seen that the statistics are pointing that this could be the issue," Rush said. "So what we're trying to do now is not assume that that has to be continually the problem, but... bring kids in from this area and say... 'We're going to help you. You don't need to get in this group of kids that are going to cause problems for you in your life.'
"That's the problem, and we're working on a solution."Comments powered by Disqus
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