July 9, 2007
Charlottesville Police are investigating two more random attacks on people near the downtown mall.
The first incident happened around 10PM Friday along the Belmont Bridge. A couple was walking towards downtown when a teenager sucker punched the man. The man told police a group of teens wearing white t-shirts ran off laughing.
Then, not 30 minutes later a group of teens in white t-shirts allegedly beat up a man near the Lexis Nexis office building. A man driving by saw the attack and yelled for the victim to get in his car. The witness said even after he rescued the man the teens continued to beat on his car.
“Anybody watching this has got to wonder why and we are wondering the same thing. People question ‘is it a gang initiation’ or is it racially motivated or is it just kids daring each other to do something? We have no idea right now,” said Charlottesville Police Capt. Chip Harding.
That uncertainty has some scared.
“I am afraid to go to the downtown mall because of the situations that have happened,” said Belmont Resident Durrell Jackson.
While others, even one man whose friend was a recent victim of a vicious random attack, say they are not afraid.
“They jumped him from behind and he got pretty badly beaten up by it. I know there had been an increase in those incidents, but it hasn't caused me to change my behavior,” said Matt Cooney.
Right now, police have few leads and can't say whether the attacks are related. But they have increased patrols, are investigating each attack and have asked city council to approve hidden cameras around the downtown area.
There was also a third incident this weekend where police say a group of teens hurled a rock at a car on Jefferson Park Avenue. Police did make an arrest in that case.
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