Philadelphia and Campus Police are investigating three potentially related assault cases involving three female Temple students in areas just a block from Broad Street.
The three victims gave similar descriptions of the offender, identifying him as an African American teenage male who was about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a medium to stocky build. Capt. Robert M. Lowell of Campus Police said the similar descriptions have led police to consider a single perpetrator, though they cannot be sure at this time.
“It’s extremely difficult to say. There are several similarities and dissimilarities.
It’s a hard call,” Lowell said.
The first incident occurred Feb. 3 at the 1600 block of Fontaine Street. According to the official police report, the offender approached a 21-year-old female Temple student and asked to borrow her cell phone.
The offender then forced her to the ground and unzipped his pants before unsuccessfully attempting to steal her purse. The perpetrator eventually fled the scene with the victim’s cell phone.Four days later, at the 1700 block of Diamond Street, the offender held a knife to a female student’s neck, demanding her purse and cell phone. The victim reported that the offender groped her before leaving with the victim’s purse and cell phone.
And last Monday, while walking along the 2000 block of Carlisle Street, a female student reported that a man asked to use her cell phone and, when she refused, he grabbed her and repeatedly asked for a hug. Eventually the offender fled, only taking the victim’s cell phone.
Lowell said both Campus Police Provostand Philadelphia Police have taken steps to further the investigation and make the areas safer for students, including making it more difficult for people to identify police officers in the area.
“Patrol-wise, the city [police] and Campus Police both have extra units out,” Lowell said. “Both departments are using marked as well as unmarked vehicles. We are using uniformed and plain-clothes officers
as well as bicycle patrols in subdued uniforms so that they can investigate without being immediately marked as a police officer.”
Diamond Street is home to many Temple students, including Brea Stover,
who lives off Diamond and Carlisle streets. Though unaware of the recent incidents,
Stover said she was surprised that these things had happened.
“I didn’t think that there were any real problems with students, but I guess I was wrong,” said Stover, a junior public relations major.
Katie Hoban, a junior advertising major, said she heard about the events from family and friends and is taking extra precautions to stay safe.
“I don’t park my car around the block anymore because I’m not comfortable
walking by myself,” Hoban said, adding
that a more visible police force would help make her feel safer.
“I usually feel pretty safe around here. There are some families on my street that really look out for everyone. I would like to see Temple cops riding around more often. I usually only see them on Friday nights,” Hoban said.
Freshman Jennifer Markle lives in White Hall, which is located in close proximity
to where the incidents occurred. She said the incidents have changed how attentive she will be when walking in that part of the neighborhood.
“I am definitely going to be more aware. People don’t always pay attention to what’s going on around them, but I definitely will now,” said Markle, an advertising
Lowell said awareness is key in staying
safe on and around campus, adding that cell phones often detract from a pedestrian’s awareness.
“If you watch faculty and students, they are often talking on cell phones or texting, not paying much attention,” Lowell
said. “Using a cell phone tells people that you have something they want. We encourage students to only use their cell phones in public if the absolutely have to.”
Alex Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org