Hundreds of youths gathered at Temple University Friday night in what devolved into a night of violence, with at least six students assaulted and robbed, rocks being thown at cars, and two assaults on police officers.
Police officers responding to reports of a “flash mob” were themselves attacked, and a police horse was punched in the face. Four arrests were reported. But CBS3 reported that as many as 50 youths were taken into custody by police.
One of the victim’s fathers, Joseph Lauletta, said his daughter is still “black and blue” over most of her body from being kicked, stomped and punched by a group of youths on Friday night. (Lauletta is the US Circulation Director at Metro.)
“I was on the way home from my son's football game and received a call from a number I did not recognize. ... It was my daughter on the other end crying,” Lauletta said. “I couldn’t get much out of her except that she was jumped."
Lauletta’s daughter, 19, who declined to comment and is requesting privacy after the attack, described a group of dozens of middle school to high school boys and girls rushing and attacking her and her friends as they walked on Oxford Street off of Broad Street. Only females attacked his daughter, he said.
“It happened so fast,” Lauletta said. “They attacked her, pulling her hair, beating her, kicking her mostly … there were so many of them, they pinned her down.”
Below, see grainy surveillance video of the group of teens swarming the street before Lauletta's daughter was attacked.
His daughter was thrown to the street and stomped on, which left her severely scratched and bruised all over her back. She’s also bruised and in pain all over her legs, arms and face, he said. Her phone was stolen, and the boys with her were also attacked.
“A manager from the pizza shopran out and broke up the attack,” Lauletta said. Police arrested two teen boys, aged 15 and 17, for that incident. Theyare charged with aggravated assault. (Police did not identify any of the juveniles arrested).
An official at Temple University said there were about 200 juveniles on and around Temple’s campus Friday night, between 8:30 p.m. and midnight, in various sized groups. The teenagers used Instagram and social media to coordinate the meet-up, and used coded language to share messages such as to not bring weapons.
The official said there appeared to be a “pattern” of this kind of large group activity. They said this was the second consecutive weekend there was a disturbance on campus. No TU alert was sent out last weekend, the Temple News reported.
Police confirmed the four incidents on Friday around Temple campus, including the assault on Lauletta’s daughter, as officers responded to what they called reports of “flash mobs” in and around Temple campus.
The incidents included a police horse being allegedly punched twice in the face by a 16-year-old boy as officers tried to disperse a crowd of 75 to 100 people on the 1700 block of Broad Street. The teen was later arrested and charged with assault of a police service animal.
A female Temple bike cop was also assaulted by a 15-year-old boy who she observed throwing rocks at cars on the 1900 block of Broad Street. The officer suffered bruising to her left leg and a scrape on her knee, police said. That boy was also later arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
Besides Lauletta’s daughter, another group of students, two males and one female, ages 18 to 19, were also assaulted on the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore by a group of 20 to 30 black males and females.
The female in that case had her cell phone smashed and her debit card stolen. The two males were robbed of an iPhone, wallet and backpack. No arrests were reported in that case.
While she couldn’t walk the day after the attack, Lauletta’s daughter was recovered enough by Monday to attend classes at Temple, he said. Lauletta posted his story to Facebook Saturday, and it went viral, with more than 3,500 shares by Monday morning.
He said he has received dozens of comments from other Temple parents sharing stories of their children being attacked and robbed on campus and complaining that the school doesn’t do enough. He noted that his daughter was attacked around 8:30 p.m. – but the first security alert from Temple University didn’t go out until 9:30 p.m., and it did not explicitly warn students of the violence or robberies.
TU Alert: Increased police activity due to large groups of juveniles along Broad Street on/near Main Campus. Police responding. Avoid area.— Temple University (@TempleUniv) October 22, 2016
“TU Alert: Increased police activity due to large groups of juveniles along Broad Street on/near Main Campus. Police responding. Avoid area," Temple posted on Twitter at 9:30 p.m.
“Ithink the university's not quick enough to respond,” Lauletta said. “The notification seems to come out after the events happen. Lots of parents that are commenting on the Facebook post, they want to be aware, get notifications early, see more of a police presence, and they want a parent group to interact with Temple so they can keep their children safe.”
A university official said they are planning to send out a campus wide email with safety tips and advice to students later on Monday.
It’s not the first time Temple University students been victimized by random, violent attacks.
In 2014, Temple student Abbey Luffey was smashed in the face with a brick in a random attack on her and her boyfriend by a group of teenage girls. She was severely injured and required surgery. The girl who threw the brick was tried as an adult and sentenced to state prison.
Additional reporting by Alexis Sachdev