Sunday, October 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Beating victim touched by DN readers' kindness: Warrants issued for 2 in 'Catch & Wreck' assault

Belinda Moore recounts the attack she suffered by a group of children and adolescents at Finnegan Playground in South West Philly. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff Photographer)
Belinda Moore recounts the attack she suffered by a group of children and adolescents at Finnegan Playground in South West Philly. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff Photographer)

Offers of support from Daily News readers poured in yesterday for a woman who fell victim to a sick kids' game called "Catch and Wreck," in which unsuspecting adults are beaten for fun on a Southwest Philadelphia playground.

Belinda Moore, 41, was attacked by a group of as many 20 kids - ranging in age from 9 to 15 - as she walked home through James Finnegan Playground, on Grovers Avenue near 69th Street, about 9:30 p.m. Friday, police said.

It was the same playground where Moore used to play with her son, who died in 2005 at the age of 16 from asthma-related complications.

After reading her story yesterday, more than a dozen readers called the Daily News, offering to give Moore everything from groceries to cash to emotional support.

Carol Piazzo, 55, brought Moore water, soda, vegetables and other groceries last night.

Piazzo, now a South Philly resident, said she had been moved to help because she grew up in Moore's neighborhood and played at Finnegan Playground as a child.

"It's a new day out there now," Piazzo said. "It's just a shame that new day isn't better."

Moore said she was touched by the kindness shown by others.

"I'm so blessed that there's people that really care about other people and their struggles," Moore said. "I'm still sore but my spirit is up."

Lt John Walker, of Southwest Detectives, said an 11-year-old boy from Southwest Philadelphia was arrested about 6:30 last night in connection with the assaults of Moore and 73-year-old Vincent Poppa, who was attacked in similar manner near the playground on March 13.

An arrest warrant was also issued for a 12-year-old girl who was involved in the assault of Moore, Walker said. Arrest warrants could be issued in the coming days for several other young men who were involved in the attack on Poppa, he added.

A 12-year-old girl was already charged over the weekend with aggravated assault, attempted robbery and related offenses for the brutal beating.

Moore said the kids - boys and girls - circled her and chanted taunts and obscenities while they punched her, kicked her and hit her with sticks.

Moore was eventually able to gain the strength to get up and run to a nearby house for help.

Poppa remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Walker said that foot patrols have been increased in and around the playground. He said that through interviews with neighborhood teens, police learned that this was a game that the kids called "Catch and Wreck," though he didn't know the origin of the name.

"They thought this was funny, not realizing that the devastating actions they've taken have created some devastating consequences for the victims," he said.

Poppa suffered a heart attack during his assault and had visible footprints on his head and body, Walker said.

Moore has swelling, scrapes and a large contusion on her head, but said her mental pain far outweighs her ongoing physical pain.

"These kids should be looking up to and getting guidance from these adults," Walker said. "Instead, they're attacking them for no reason at all."

Police believe that there may be others who have been attacked by this same group but who have not reported their assaults to police. Walker urged anyone with information about the attacks to come forward so that police can determine how "widespread and prevalent" the attacks are.

Tipsters can call Southwest Detectives at 215-686-3183.

STEPHANIE FARR farrs@phillynews.com 215-854-4225
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