News Column

Park Ranger Assaulted in Philadelphia Park

August 18, 2014

Laura McCrystal, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Aug. 17--Police are investigating reports of a skateboarder beating a ranger in LOVE Park on Friday as others stood by and laughed.

Details of the incident were made public over the weekend, after a witness posted a video of it on the Internet.

The confrontation began just before 5:30 p.m. Friday, police said, when a Philadelphia parks ranger approached a group of skateboarders and told them that skateboarding is not permitted in LOVE Park, located at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard and a popular picture-taking spot among tourists.

One skateboarder told the ranger, "I ain't [expletive] leaving," according to police, and put up his fists. The skateboarder then punched the ranger and wrestled him to the ground.

The video begins with the ranger putting up his hands in a defensive manner and speaking to the skateboarders. After wrestling the ranger to the ground, the skateboarder continues to beat him, kick him in the legs and head and spit on him. Other skateboarders, all young men, stood by watching and laughing.

One of them also videotaped the beating, while a third taunted the ranger, police said.

"It was really disgraceful," said Mariano Verrico of Essex Fells, N.J., who made the video that was posted online and also promptly turned it over to police.

Verrico said he did not know the skateboarders. He was visiting family in Philadelphia for the day and went to LOVE Park to eat cheesesteaks when he saw the skateboarders begin a verbal confrontation with the ranger. He pulled out his cellphone and began to record the encounter.

Detectives were working Sunday to identify the suspects. As the rest of the young men leave, Verrico's video shows one of them pick up the ranger's hat from the ground and hand it to him before skateboarding away to the other side of the park.

The ranger suffered minor injuries, police said.

Police arrived after the skateboarders had left, Verrico said. He accompanied the ranger to the police station to make a statement and hand over his video.

The attack was condemned by the Mayor's Office.

"Park rangers serve an important public purpose helping visitors and residents in our terrific park system and it's unfortunate that people engage in violence," said Mark McDonald, spokesman for Mayor Nutter. "And we certainly hope that our employee recovers quickly and that the criminal justice system deals with the individual who did this."




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Original headline: Police looking for skateboarders involved in park ranger beating

Source: (c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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