Editor’s Note: Police have said that they have received many useful tips on this case (see the update below). This is not an easy case for us to report for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a sexual assault and that requires the utmost sensitivity to cultivate a constructive conversation that does not blame the victim. Second, the perpetrator is still at large and many neighbors are trying to help find him, which is important in a functional and vital community. But we also must be sensitive to jumping to conclusions about our neighbors who are thin, young African American males. If we’re not, we risk that functional and vital community that everyone wants.
UPDATE (10/16/13, 9:00 a.m.): Police are still searching for the suspect. “The public is really stepping up and sending us tips, videos and names. Helping a lot,” Detective Joe Murray told West Philly Local.
A woman was sexually assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at 11:45 a.m. on Monday near 50th and Hazel. The 29-year-old was the latest victim in a string of as many as a half-dozen gunpoint robberies in that area in the last two weeks.
The victim told West Philly Local that she was approached by an African American male, 18-22 years old, wearing a red t-shirt. According to police, she was robbed of cash and then taken to a nearby alley and sexually assaulted.
“(I) didn’t even think at 11:45 in the morning on Hazel that this would happen,” the victim said.
Police confirmed the uptick in armed robberies in the vicinity in recent days. The victim said her friend was approached last night by a man fitting the same description only wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with white drawstrings near 50th and Pentridge. The man said he was from Detroit and asked for directions. The person immediately called police and the man fled. Two other robberies were reported last night and the general description of the perpetrator is similar.
Detective Joe Murray said the descriptions are similar, but couldn’t confirm that the robber was the same person that attacked the woman on Monday morning. Police are investigating the case and we’ll post an update when we have more information.
Here’s a more detailed description of the perpetrator provided by the victim:
African American male, aged 18-22, 5’8, very skinny, no facial hair, short haircut, no distinguishable scars/tattoos, was wearing a red t-shirt.