Rape, assault raise fears

Police sending additional officers to section of Charles Village

May 03, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun reporter

Women who work and live in Charles Village were on edge yesterday as news spread that police are searching for a man they say raped one woman in their neighborhood and tried to sexually assault another in two separate incidents.

"A lot of nights I'm the only one here," said Danielle Saghy, a third-grade teacher at Margaret Brent Elementary School in Charles Village. "I don't feel uneasy here, but I guess I should."

The school where Saghy teaches is in the 2600 block of St. Paul St., the block where a man tried to rape a woman at knifepoint about 9 p.m. March 5, police said.

On Wednesday, a woman who lives at the 2200 block of St. Paul St. was raped at gunpoint, police said. A man followed a woman into her apartment, asked for money and raped her on her couch, police said.

Police made public Thursday night a composite sketch of a suspect, and detectives began getting calls yesterday.

"We're getting tips, some from people who live in the area," said Sgt. Chris A. Jones, a supervisor with the sex-offense unit.

Overall, violent crime is down in the Northern District, which includes Charles Village. Maj. Ross Buzzuro, the district commander, said he has ordered more uniformed and plainclothes officers to the St. Paul Street corridor, where the crimes occurred.

Also, he said, he has detailed the Charles Village foot officer to that area, and the Charles Village Citizens on Patrol that started recently will focus on that part of the neighborhood.

"It is a strong, tightly knit community down there," Buzzuro said. "This is obviously a terrible incident. It is a priority for us in our district."

David Hill, executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, said his organization is distributing the sketch to community listserves and he said that he's met with police.

The Johns Hopkins University security office put out a crime bulletin yesterday warning students about the two attacks.

Chandrani Mondal, a Johns Hopkins senior, said she hadn't heard about the rapes - and tries not to pay too close attention to local news. "I don't want to think about anything bad happening near me," she said. "It's scary and horrible but we always hear about bad things in the area. That comes with going to Hopkins."

Police identified people of interest yesterday in another crime in the Northern District. They recovered a cell phone that was taken from a woman in Homeland at gunpoint about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Sterling Clifford, a city police spokesman. No arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed.

The woman declined to be interviewed, fearing that her assailants would threaten her children.

But in an e-mail she sent to her community association, the woman wrote that three men approached her as she was getting out of her car with groceries in hand.

"They ran toward me yelling and demanded money," she wrote. "The one with a bandana around his face DISPLAYED A SMALL HANDGUN."

Clifford said the robbers might be connected to a rash of robberies in Baltimore County.

Buzzuro said there has been no significant increase in crime in the area where the crimes occurred.

"We're not seeing a continual spike in robberies," he said. "You'll have a couple. I can't see that there is any type of alarming spike or trend. They are generally safe neighborhoods. We will have an occasional robbery. It is not the norm."

Police data show drops in most types of crime across the city and similar drops in the Northern District, which includes Charles Village, Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland.

In the district this year, homicides are down 67 percent, shootings are down 27 percent and aggravated assaults are down 11 percent.

There has been a 1 percent increase in robberies - there has been one more robbery this year than there had been at this time last year. There has been a 25 percent increase in auto theft and a 44 percent increase in larceny from auto.

The data also show that last month was one of the safest Aprils in recent memory citywide. There were 10 homicides. The last time there were that few in April was in 1977.

Anyone with information about the sexual assaults in Charles Village is urged to call the sex-offense unit at 410-396-2076.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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