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Recent assaults on Somerville women under investigation

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 08:01


Courtesy Lydia Chevalier

A series of assaults in the Union Square and Porter Square areas were recently reported to the Somerville Police Department (SPD).

The attacks on women occurred in the past three months — two in early January, according to a Jan. 15 SPD safety alert. Each took place in the time between late evening and early nighttime. The Jan. 2 incident took place between Summer St. and Highland Ave. in the Porter Square area, and the next followed 10 days later on Hawkins St. in Union Square.

The description for the suspect in both January assaults closely resembled that of a suspect for a similar offense on Nov. 18, according to the SPD. Police have not caught the perpetrator.  

SPD published a sketch of the suspect on their website and local news outlets. At press time, police continue to investigate the crimes as they actively search for the suspect.

Despite the crimes’ proximity to Tufts, the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) has not issued a university safety alert. Because Porter and Union Squares are not directly adjacent to the Medford/Somerville campus, crimes in the former region are not subject to safety alerts, according to Kevin Maguire, the Director of the Department of Public and Environmental Safety.

“While we work in close partnership with the cities of Medford and Somerville to monitor the areas that are [next to] the Medford/Somerville campus, activity [in Porter and Union Squares] would not be the subject of a joint safety alert to the university community,” Maguire said.

The investigation of the assaults is exclusively under the SPD jurisdiction, he added. Maguire said he encourages Tufts students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the ways they can ensure their own protection.

“[Those] living outside the area adjacent to the Medford/Somerville campus are provided with law enforcement and safety services by the city they reside in,” Maguire said. “They should practice good safety habits and heed the advice provided by their law enforcement officials.”

The Somerville Police Department has also recommended that pedestrians take extra precautions in the Porter Square and Union Square areas, according to the most recent alert.

“Do not wear ear buds while walking, avoid poorly lit areas, be aware of your surroundings and, if possible, do not walk alone,” the department stated in their most recent alert. “Keep your cell phone handy, so you can make a call to police quickly. If you are approached by a man you do not know, call 911 right away.”

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