On Dec. 6, three Temple students were assaulted on Montgomery Avenue while heading on their way to study for a test. More than four months later, Detective Gavin Collier still struggles with the unsolved case file.
“Sometimes, it’s the cold cases that don’t go away,” said Collier, who has been a Temple Police detective for six years. “They bother me, especially something this serious. I have a daughter who attends Temple, a wife who works here at Temple, so the Temple community itself is very important to me.”
According to the police report, the students were walking west on the north side of the 1200 block of Montgomery Avenue, when a group of eight people approached them. Moments later, a male in the group started to punch all three students, resulting in swelling and abrasions around all three victims’ eyes.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said one of the students – a 19-year-old risk management major – was the most injured, as he received stitches from Temple University Hospital due to a laceration on his lower lip.
The offenders left The View at Montgomery and appeared to be “amped up” while leaving the building and heading toward the scene of the incident, which occurred across from the Insomnia Cookie truck between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.
In the time since the assault, Leone said Temple Police have used several photos, a video and have worked with management from The View to try identifying the suspects. When he saw the footage, he said he thought the case would be solvable.
“Usually, we’re very successful when we capture images on the video to identify people,” Leone said. “I was really confident in this one, because we got some great shots, so I thought, ‘Somebody’s going to know who they are.’”
“If I was able to get one name, we could build on that,” he added. “Maybe it’s a false sense of security, but we’ve done really well with the camera images.”
Collier said he worked with management from The View and looked through the building’s guest logs. Whenever a resident signs a guest in, security takes the guest’s ID and scans it, and a photograph of the ID is timestamped and saved electronically.
“Unfortunately, a lot of those images are too poor to read the names on the ID card,” Collier said. “I went back as far as 10 p.m., and looked at all the people that came in … just to see if there was anything that matched up, but nothing really stood out to me.”
Both Leone and Collier said a reason the suspects may not have been initially identified was because the incident happened right before Winter Break. Since most students were not on Main Campus, spreading the word and receiving help from the student population became more difficult, they said.
Both added that the suspects appeared to attack the three victims without a motive. Collier said this trend has become more common recently, especially when attackers are intoxicated.
“In this day and age, a lot of times, there are random acts of violence,” Collier said. “Especially involving alcohol. I don’t know if this group had been imbibing alcohol, but looking at the elevator [footage], it appears they may have been in that partying mood and been drinking.”
Collier said he believes somebody knows the attackers, but is unwilling to come forward – either out of loyalty to the suspects, or in fear of retaliation if they gave up their names.
Today, Leone and Collier said the investigation remains at a standstill. But with the end of the spring semester in a couple of weeks, Collier said he won’t stop trying to find new angles to figure out who was responsible for the incident in early December.
“Even over the summer break, when everybody else isn’t thinking about it, I’ll still revisit it, look through the file, see if there’s anything else that might pop up to give me some indication of where to go next,” he said.
Anybody with information about the case is encouraged to call Temple Police at 215-204-6493, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.