Skater has no love for ranger at LOVE Park

Posted: August 19, 2014

REGULAR skaters at LOVE Park say they have a subtle truce with the rangers, a cat-and-mouse game of grinding along concrete steps when they're gone and leaving peacefully with wheels up when they show up.

The skaters were OK with that, too, but now they fear that some "suburban kid who always acts hard" has ruined it for all of them by punching, kicking and spitting on a ranger who tried to get him and some other skaters to leave Friday afternoon.

"He's an idiot," skater Ki Realer, 34, said of the unidentified suspect, who is wanted by police on assault charges. "Not only are the police looking for him, but he'll also never be welcome here again. Now we all know what's coming for the rest of us."

The incident happened about 5:30 p.m. Friday, police said - a day after a big antiviolence vigil in LOVE Park - and was witnessed by a large crowd that included Michael "Philly Jesus" Grant, who was profiled in a Daily News cover story on Aug. 8.

It was captured on video by an Essex County, N.J., man who was about to sit down with a cheesesteak with two cousins and a friend when it began.

The filmer, Mariano Verrico, said in an interview yesterday that the man appeared to be waiting and almost eager for a confrontation with the ranger.

"I ain't f---ing leaving," the man said, according to police.

Verrico said that a few people yelled for the man - who is black with short, braided hair - to stop and that the suspect's friends also videotaped the incident and tossed racial slurs at the ranger, who also is black.

"We saw the ranger walking down the stairs, talking to the kids. He was real respectful, wasn't raising his voice," Verrico said. "The one kid who was the main attacker, he kind of stepped in and got really belligerent and loud with the ranger."

The video shows the man tackling the ranger, swinging at his face, then kicking him several times. The man also spits on the ranger. One skater is seen in the video handing the fallen ranger his hat back before everyone skates off toward an exit.

Skaters at LOVE Park yesterday said they recognized the alleged attacker and said he was from Pottstown, Montgomery County. They said he regularly starts trouble at the park.

"He tries to be hard," said Korey Myrick, 29.

Verrico posted a Instagram profile of a skater from Pottstown toward the end of his video but police would not say whether that person - who has posted videos of other altercations at the park and photos making fun of "bums" - was a suspect in the ranger incident. That individual did not return requests for comment yesterday.

Police said the main suspect appears to be 19. Cops said they also were looking for a white man, about 19 or 20, who is seen laughing in the video and yelling at the ranger; along with an Asian male, described as 5 feet 9, 150 pounds, who was videotaping the incident and appeared to be enjoying it.

The unidentified ranger, 35, was treated for minor injuries. Myrick said he and fellow skaters know the ranger, and know when his shift starts so they can avoid trouble, and they wished him well.

"That's not what it's like here," he said. "We're not like that."

"Philly Jesus," seen stepping into the video toward the end, said in an interview yesterday that he doesn't get involved in altercations at LOVE Park but was glad to hear that the ranger didn't suffer serious injuries.

"I pray for him," he said.

Tipsters should call 215-686-TIPS (-8477).


On Twitter: @JasonNark

 

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