Temple student recounts savage beating

Posted: March 27, 2014

"I'D NEVER felt in fear for my life before this happened."

That's how a Temple University student described his encounter with a group of teenage girls who accosted him and his girlfriend Friday on Norris Street near 17th.

He left the encounter shaken, but his girlfriend, 19, fared much worse: One girl, whom police are now questioning, slammed a brick into her face, causing serious damage to her mouth and teeth.

"This was in broad daylight," the man, 20, said. "I'm familiar with the area and the reputation it has, but I never expected anything so senseless, or to be involved in anything so senseless."

It's not clear why the high schoolers lashed out at the two Temple sophomores (whose identities are being withheld by the Daily News to protect them), but, with five girls in custody, police hope to get that answer soon.

The suspects, from 14 to 17 years old, turned themselves in to Central Detectives yesterday morning, Capt. Frank Banford said. The girls came forward after seeing news reports about the assault, one of three attacks believed to have been committed by the same group within a 20-minute span.

"They saw themselves in the video, and knew that sooner or later they would get caught," Banford said.

The suspect in the Norris Street incident, 15, will likely be charged with aggravated assault and related offenses, Banford said.

What sparked the attacks is unclear, Banford said. One witness told police that she saw a group of high-school girls yelling about a flash mob and running down Willington Street in the minutes before the first attack.

"This is not an ongoing event," Banford said. "These girls came to the area on public transportation, and they left the area by bus afterward."

To hear the victim's boyfriend tell it, the girls seemed to target them at random.

"We were just walking back to my apartment when we saw them," he said. "We didn't do anything to provoke them; they escalated this themselves."

He gave the following account of what led up to his girlfriend's savage beating:

About 10 high-school girls were walking toward the couple, taunting them and "getting in our faces." The couple crossed the street to avoid the girls, who followed them.

Then the teens took an interest in the girlfriend, grabbing at her hair and earrings before one girl punched her in the back of the head.

The man socked that girl in the mouth.

"My first instinct, as soon as they hit her, was to try and fight them off," he said.

That's when, in response, another girl grabbed a brick and swung at his girlfriend, hitting her in the mouth with enough force to break her teeth, and pushing them out of alignment.

The couple fled to the boyfriend's car, and he drove them to Hahnemann University Hospital, where an oral surgeon worked to fix the damage.

"She's hanging in there," he said. "She's still in pain, she can't really eat or talk, and she'll need braces for a few weeks."

Banford said the suspects are students at various schools around the city, including at least one in the area near Temple, and that it's not clear how they knew each other.

In the other two attacks, one at 17th Street near Willington and another at 17th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, female Temple students were punched in the face, Banford said.

Charges for the suspect in the brick assault had not been filed last night. Of the other four girls in custody, only three are likely to be charged, Banford said.

Meanwhile, the victim's boyfriend was still trying to wrap his head around what happened.

"These are kids, young girls," he said. "I never expected this kind of aggression and violence from someone like that."

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