New game called “Catch and Wreck”
Two preteens assaulted a woman walking home through a playground as part of a violent game called “Catch and Wreck,” in which children identify targets they think are homeless and then beat and rob them for fun, police said Tuesday.An 11-year-old boy was arrested Monday night and charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and robbery, Philadelphia police Lt. John Walker said.
A 12-year-old girl was charged shortly after the Friday night attack in southwest Philadelphia. The victim was surrounded by children, then punched and hit with sticks, police said. She suffered minor injuries to her knee and head and delayed seeking medical attention to help police with the investigation.
Police also plan to charge the boy in an attack on a 73-year-old man who was beaten and robbed in the same area on March 13, Walker said. The victim in that assault, Vincent Poppa, suffered a heart attack and remains hospitalized.
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams said both children were being charged as juveniles. Their names have not been released.
Investigators believe the assaults are part of a game called “Catch and Wreck,” which children in the neighborhood described to them after Friday’s attack.
Philadelphia police said a “flash mob” with thousands of teenagers and young adults swarmed South Street last night causing businesses to close early and bringing law enforcement from across the city to control the crowd.
Olympia Pizza employee Seth Kaufman said he was beaten by a crowd attempting to enter the store.
“40 to 50 punches I took. 20 kicks. I just stood my ground as best I could and fought them off,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman and restaurant operator Paul Psihogios were trying to keep the unruly crowd from entering the business.
“I’m just trying to hold off the crowd, hold the door,” said Psihogios.
At 15th and South Street, a 27-year-old woman was brutally attacked after being surrounded by scores of people.
“She had a broken nose and they knocked out two teeth,” said Good Samaritan Rick Almeid, who aided the victim. “She was just an innocent young girl.”
As officials sought solutions, more victims injured in Saturday’s Twitter-inspired flash mob came forward. Possibly thousands of teens stampeded in waves down South Street until nearly midnight, running on top of cars, knocking down pedestrians, fighting and urinating on neighbors’ property.
As police cleared South Street, young men fled to other streets in Center City.
In addition to a woman getting punched in the face about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, her boyfriend, John Kemp, 36, was struck a few times in the head at 15th and Kater streets. Kemp said he and his girlfriend plan to give police statements today.
About 11:20 p.m., at 15th and Market streets, police said, Deion Perkins, 19, was arrested after he and a group of juveniles allegedly beat an adult male near the Clothespin sculpture.
As an officer was putting Perkins into a police vehicle, the defendant turned around and allegedly punched the cop in the face. The two wrestled to the ground and Perkins ran off, but officers caught him nearby, police said.
Perkins was charged with aggravated assault of an officer and related offenses.
About 11:30 p.m., a young man entered the Bliss restaurant on Broad Street near Spruce and punched a diner in the head three times. The youth ran off.
In a fourth incident at 11:35 p.m., a 25-year-old Union League employee was walking to his car on Moravian Street near Broad, when he was jumped by 20 to 30 juveniles, who kicked him in the face and body. The victim was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital and treated for minor injuries. No arrests were made.
Three other arrests were made, including a 17-year-old on gun charges, a juvenile for obstructing traffic and an adult for disorderly conduct. No damage was reported.
‘Flash mobs’ are an ongoing occurrence:
Last spring, several people were injured when at least 100 people converged on the area. A 54-year-old man riding his bicycle home from work was critically injured when he beaten during the May 30 episode. In addition, a cabdriver was assaulted and robbed nearby and two people were pulled from a vehicle on Broad Street and assaulted and robbed.
And mobs of young people have caused disruptions in Center City three times in as many months. Some of the teenagers responding to a Dec. 18 call about fights at the Gallery mall food court later randomly attacked some pedestrians on nearby streets.
On Feb. 16, about 150 teenagers spilled out of the mall and some rampaged through a nearby department store, knocking down pedestrians and damaging displays. Following a similar episode March 3, police made 28 arrests and filed felony riot charges slated for trial March 22-23.
Children told police the game involves pinpointing passers-by they think are homeless and then beating and robbing them for fun, Walker said. The woman who was attacked, however, said she is not homeless.