Archive: September, 2009
A female University of Pennsylvania student is among three women who were raped in the city in the past several days, police said today.
The 20-something victim told police she was attacked about 2 a.m. Saturday while she was at a party inside a fraternity house on the 3500 block of Locust Walk, the university’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.
A source identified the fraternity house as that of Phi Kappa Sigma.
According to Vanore, Philadelphia police became involved after the victim sought treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania later on Saturday.
Investigators from the police Special Victims Unit have interviewed a number of people who attended the party in an attempt to build an accurate description of the assailant, Vanore said.
In a statement addressing the incident, university officials wrote in part: “The university takes this matter very seriously and is cooperating fully with the Philadelphia police investigation.
“The university is offering support services to our student. Police have indicated that the situation poses no obvious danger to other members of the university community.”
Several hours before the Penn student was attacked, a teenager was raped inside her East Mt. Airy home, police said.
The 15-year-old victim was home alone about 11:30 p.m. Friday when she heard a noise on the first floor of her house on Blakemore Street near Montana, said Lt. Tom McDevitt, of the Special Victims Unit.
When the girl ventured downstairs to investigate the noise, a man who entered through the front door reached out, grabbed her and forced her to a sofa where he raped her, McDevitt said.
The living room was dark, so the victim was unable to focus on the features of her attacker, McDevitt said.
About 12:30 a.m. Friday, a 21-year-old woman was confronted by three men on Duval Street near Chew Avenue, in East Germantown, after she left a friend’s house.
The woman tried to ignore the men, McDevitt said, but they forced her into a nearby alley at knifepoint. Two of the thugs then raped her.
The victim told police one attacker was a thin, 5-foot-7 black man in his late 20s with braids and a beard. He wore black pants, a white T-shirt and Timberland boots.
Police said the second man was a light-complected, 5-foot-8 black man in his 20s. He had a beard, mustache and sideburns, and wore cargo pants and Timberland boots.
The third assailant was a light-complected black man in his mid-20s, who had a beard, mustache, braids and a black and white Dickies shirt.
Tipsters can contact SVU at 215-685-3251.
Customs and Border Protection earlier today announced the arrests of two hashish smugglers at Philadelphia International Airport in separate incidents this month.
Officials referred to the smugglers as "swallowers" because they had ingested a combined 1.5 pounds of hashish which had been stored in tiny plastic pellets. The pellets are typically made from latex gloves and condoms.
A woman in her 20s was hit by a car and critically injured in Parkside shortly after 4:30 p.m. today, police said. The victim, whose name was not released, was struck near 51st Street and Parkside Avenue.
She was admitted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in critical condition, said Sgt. Larry Ritchie of the police Accident Investigation Division. Ritchie said it was unclear how the accident occurred. The driver of the striking vehicle stayed at the scene, he noted.
Police earlier today released surveillance images of two armed robbers who held up Paulino’s Grocery Store, on Wyoming Avenue near A Street, on Sept. 2. The owner of the store and three customers were all robbed. One customer was treated for a head injury after being struck in the head with a bottle by one of the thieves. Both crooks fled on foot. Tipsters who recognize these two thugs can contact East Detectives at 215-686-3243.
A man in his 20s drove himself to the hospital after he was shot twice in South Philadelphia earlier tonight. The man was wounded in the arm and back on Bucknell Street near Federal about 9 p.m., said Lt. Martin Derbyshire of South Detectives. The victim, whose name was not released, managed to to drive to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. His condition wasn't immediately available.
Derbyshire said the shooting followed an apparent argument on Bucknell Street. Police had no suspects, however.
Philadelphia police are trying to identify two men who were separately spotted photographing parts of the Broad Street subway line earlier this week.
Aware that the mere mention of such activity could trigger terrorism fears, authorities were quick to note yesterday that neither incident seemed ominous.
“We don’t believe either one of these events are terrorism-related, or that there’s any connection to what’s been going on in New York,” said Homeland Security Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan, alluding to an alleged terrorist plot there that had led to three arrests.
The first incident in the local subways occurred about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when a bearded white man in his 20s apparently took pictures of the underground area at the Snyder Avenue stop in South Philadelphia, Sullivan said.
SEPTA security cameras captured footage of the man, who had a backpack and a ponytail, as he left the station.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a SEPTA cashier noticed a clean-shaven “Middle Eastern” man with close-cropped hair taking pictures at the Lombard Street station, he said.
The cashier confronted the man, who proceeded to show her images of other subway facilities on his camera. He then indicated that he was deleting the pictures and left, Sullivan said.
No footage was taken of the man because the security cameras at the Lombard station were not working.
“We feel confident this is nothing to be alarmed about,” Sullivan said, “but we do implore people to call us when you see something unusual, and let us make the determination.”
Investigators frequently respond to reports of people taking photos of trains and subways. “Usually, they just turn out to be art students or train buffs,” he said.
SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said members of the public are allowed to photograph subway stops and other portions of the transportation line and regularly do.
These two people "were brought to our attention, so we’d just be interested in talking to them and learning a bit more about what they were doing,” she said.
Tomorrow marks the 1-year anniversary of the murder of Highway Patrol Sgt. Patrick McDonald.
A series of memorial events will start at noon at Highway Patrol's headquarters, on Erie Avenue near G Street. Police officials said McDonald's family and members of his unit will travel from Erie Avenue to his grave at Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem, where a moment of silence will be held at 1:47 p.m. -- the moment he died from an array of gunshot wounds.
The memorial will continue with a visit to Colorado Street near Susquehanna Avenue in North Philadelphia, where McDonald had his fatal encounter with career criminal Daniel Giddings. Giddings, who reportedly stood over McDonald and shot him numerous times, was killed during a shoot-out with police later that day.
The thug who robbed and fatally shot a beloved Southwest Philadelphia grocery store owner on Monday hid his face behind a scarf while he committed the heinous crime, investigators said tonight.
With the exception of that detail, police have had little else to go on as they hunt for the man who gunned down Domingo Rodriguez inside his shop, the Perlata Grocery, said Homicide Sgt. Tim Cooney.
Rodriguez’s wife, who watched the horrifying scene unfold inside the store, was able to provide police only with a general description of the gunman.
She told detectives the shooter was a black man who had on a white T-shirt and brown cloth work gloves, Cooney said.
The store, which Rodriguez opened a few months ago on 66th Street near Guyer Avenue, had no working surveillance camers.
Cooney said the gunman pulled out a silver handgun when he entered the store shortly before 7 p.m. and told Rodriguez, 53, to open a door to a Plexiglas-enclosed area where the shop owner was standing.
Within an instant, he shot Rodriguez in the chest and stole about $2,000 in cash that the owner was carrying in his pocket.
The triggerman turned his attention to the owner’s wife. “He had her open the cash register, which she was unable to do,” Cooney said.
Rodriguez, who has two children, died shortly after at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
A handful of local residents gathered around the crime scene Monday night and lamented over the senseless loss.
“He was a sweet, sweet man. He gave my son two packs of Pokemon cards [on Monday],” said Rosie Mansaray.
She said violent crime has recently gripped the Elmwood neighborhood where she has lived for 10 years. “I’ve had enough,” Mansaray said. “I’m moving out of here, even if I can’t sell my house.”
She added that she sold costume jewelry to Rodriguez, which he in turn sold in his store. She said she frequently warned him against carrying large amounts of cash.
“He always said, ‘Don’t worry, Mommy. I’m not afraid of anyone around here.’ Now look what happened,” Mansaray said.
Rodriguez’s murder was one of four that occurred in the city between Monday and early yesterday.
Arceno Jones, 25, was riddled with four bullets while he sat in a car near 64th and Callowhill streets in West Philadelphia shortly before 11 a.m. Monday.
Shortly thereafter, police apprehended two men who fled the scene in a Dodge Charger. The men, Shirvin McGarrell, 22, and Shay Odom, 20, were charged with Jones’ murder, police said.
Two other cases remain unsolved.
Jose Rivera, 44, was shot multiple times on Norris Street near Lawrence in North Philadelphia at 7:47 p.m. Monday, police said. He died shortly after at Temple University Hospital. A homicide investigator said last night that no suspects or motives have been identified.
At 12:52 a.m. yesterday, police found James Stansbury, 23, bleeding from wounds to his leg and back on Colorado Street near Cumberland. He died at Temple University Hospital about an hour later. Police had no suspects or motives.
Tipsters can contact the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or -3335.