Center City Philadelphia residents and city-goers on edge over recent violence

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police detectives from the Special Victims Unit were back at Macy's in Center City on Tuesday morning while the search continues for an armed rapist.

Investigators released photos and video of the alleged attacker Monday in a plea to the public to assist in finding him.
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Philadelphia police are searching for a suspect accused of raping a woman inside the public bathroom at a Macy's in Center City.

Philadelphia is already seeing an increase in violence citywide. By early February, the homicide count had already surpassed the number of homicides seen during the same time last year.

The year 2020 had been the deadliest year in Philadelphia in decades. Residents and commuters are concerned over the fact that many of the victims were picked at random.

"It bothers me because there's so much going on and nothing is really happening; no one is enforcing anything," said Marshall Pierce who commutes to Center City from Manayunk.

"I'm gonna protect myself and I'm going to leave it at that," said Christine Williams who commutes from Germantown.

Since late January, Center City Philadelphia has seen crimes of opportunity with random victims including Sunday morning's rape. Just last week a person was carjacked at Tenth and Spruce Streets by two men.

Police believe the carjackers then drove to the area of 18th and Callowhill streets where they believe the same pair, armed with what appeared to be a real gun, tried to rob someone.

The armed victim shot one of the alleged armed robbers in the head and he was rushed to the hospital. Two weeks ago, a teenager was rushed to the hospital in serious condition after he was stabbed while waiting on the SEPTA platform at 8th and Market.

A little over three weeks ago in the heart of the city, an 18-year-old was shot on the SEPTA platform underneath JFK Boulevard and managed to wrestle the gun away from the perpetrator. The police did apprehend the shooter.

According to authorities, the Macy's video shows the suspect entering the restroom prior to the victim.

Police say the rapist, armed with a cooking skewer, laid in wait in the women's restroom located inside Macy's. The 55-year-old victim was shopping with her husband when she used the bathroom on the third floor.

The suspect jumped over the stall and attacked the woman. After the assault that occurred between 11:30 and 11:40 Sunday morning, the suspect boarded the Market Frankford Line at 13th and Market Streets around 11:45.

Video then shows the suspect exiting the SEPTA station at 52nd and Market streets.

The suspect is described as a black man in his 20s with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie, black pants with white stripes on the left leg, black sneakers with white around the sole, a three-quarter length jacket with a hood and white writing on the left shoulder. He was also wearing a surgical mask.

Anyone with any information is asked to call police at 215-685-3252.
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