Donate

Woman raped in LOVE Park, suspect falls 25 feet in struggle with cops

Shown is the Robert Indiana sculpture

Shown is the Robert Indiana sculpture "LOVE" in John F. Kennedy Plaza, commonly known as Love Park, in Philadelphia, Monday, May 21, 2018. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

This article originally appeared on NBC10.

A woman was beaten and raped early Saturday while walking through Philadelphia’s popular LOVE Park in what is being called an “alarming” attack.

The assault happened around 5:20 a.m. on the west side of the park near John F. Kennedy Boulevard, police said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Capt. Mark Burgmann said the 41-year-old victim was headed to work and taking a shortcut through the park when the suspect approached her from behind.

“The offender came up behind her, punched her several times and knocked her to the ground,” he said. “The offender then proceeded to sexually assault and rape our victim.”

Several people heard the woman’s screams from the park and called 911. The first officers to arrive at the park spotted the suspect and began pursuing him, Burgmann said.

The man ran down 15th Street to a set of escalators leading to the underground SEPTA concourse. He tried to hide from police on a ledge, Burgmann said.

“When police struggled with that male in an attempt to take him into custody, he dropped approximately 25 feet to the concourse below,” Burgmann said.

The man was able to evade capture, but appeared to be injured. Surveillance video from the concourse shows the man stumbling and falling while attempting to run away.

Burgmann said he could be injured. Police checked area hospitals, but did not find a man matching his description.

The woman did not suffer life-threatening injuries, Burgmann said.

LOVE Park, also known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, sits diagonal to Philadelphia City Hall and is home to Robert Indiana’s most famous LOVE statue. The park is brightly lit and not under heavy tree cover. It was rededicated last year after a complete overhaul that removed alcoves and other groves that reduced sight-lines.

The suspect is described as an average built man around 30 years old who stands about 6 feet tall. He has dreadlocks and was wearing a red, white and blue jacket with fur trim around the hood.

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest of the attacker.

“We need to get this brazen menace off the streets right away,” FOP President John McNesby said. “This attack right in the heart of Center City is alarming and disturbing.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal