The Division of Public Safety confirmed that a suspect matching the description of a man in four cases of assault is now in custody. The man was stopped by Philadelphia Police at 6:34 p.m. on the 4100 block of Pine Street in the midst of an alleged fifth assault on a female victim. There is no information currently available that the assault was sexual in nature.
Prior to this final incident, four women reported being assaulted in the past five days in the University City area according to an advisory issued by the Division of Public Safety earlier this evening. One of the four reported instances occurred in the Penn Patrol Zone, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
On Saturday, the suspect — described in the emailed alert as “a black male, in his mid-30s to 40s, approximately 6 feet to 6’ 2” tall with a heavy build, wearing a wool cap, a blue and white plaid shirt and/or a blue puffy coat” — reportedly tried to snatch a female victim’s purse on the 4100 block of Sansom Street at 1:45pm. He was unsuccessful because he was scared of being seen by passersby.
While somewhat surprising that this case occurred in the middle of the day, Rush said that the bad weather could have made it easier for the suspect to attack unnoticed. In all the four cases, the victims were walking alone, Rush said.
The other three cases did not occur on Penn’s campus. On Monday, a man of a similar description reportedly grabbed a woman on the 100 block of South 47th Street at 8:33 p.m. The man tried to sexually assault her but failed, again being scared off by passing people. He managed to steal her purse.
Today, two more incidents occurred on Drexel University’s campus. On the 3400 block of Powelton at 11:15 a.m., a man fitting the same description as the previous two cases reportedly committed indecent sexual assault on a female victim, grabbing the woman in the vaginal area. The same reportedly occurred to another female victim on the 3500 block of Powelton at 11:25 a.m. In both cases, nothing was stolen.
Due to the similar descriptions of the suspects in each case, police are treating these incidents “as a potential pattern with one suspect,” Rush said prior to the suspect's arrest.
On Wednesday, around 4:15 a.m., a man reportedly broke into a 21-year-old Drexel student’s off-campus apartment on the 3400 block of Spring Garden Street and sexually assaulted her after threatening her with a meat cleaver according to a report from NBC News. At this time, DPS said the case appears unrelated to the four mentioned in the advisory.
“We put out the advisory to be on the safe side,” Rush said. “We’re really just trying to make sure that people are paying a little bit more attention when they’re out on the street.” She added that DPS is in contact with Philadelphia Police Department’s special victim’s unit due to the sexual assault claims involved in the cases.
Rush said that DPS — along with forces from the University City District, Drexel, and Philadelphia Police — will be increasing its police and security patrols.
“We’re all communicating. We’re all aware,” Rush said.
She encouraged students to pay attention to their surroundings and take advantage of Penn’s escort services — particularly those located outside of Van Pelt and the Arch for students on their way home from studying — and register with Penn Guardian so that DPS can track their location if they call the emergency number.
Last updated at 7:56 p.m.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that Penn Police made the arrest. The article has been updated to reflect that Philadelphia Police made the arrest. The DP regrets the error.Comments powered by Disqus
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