Man Caught Mid-Attack Near Penn's Campus

Less than an hour after a Philadelphia university issued an alert warning students of several assaults on female students in the University City area, a man was arrested – mid-attack.

James Barrett, 55, was taken into custody around 6:30 Thursday night after police officers caught him assaulting a 38-year-old graduate student near the school’s campus, in the area of 41st and Pine sts.

"As she's walking, she gets struck in the back of the head with a bicycle lock," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker. "She struggled with the offender and he drags her approximately 50 yards down the street before trying to take her items."

The victim was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for minor cuts on her head.

They believe Barrett may be behind four other attacks on female students walking alone in University City over the last five days.

UPenn sent out an alert via email to its students around 5 p.m. Thursday warning of the possible danger – just a day after a Drexel student was raped by a robber who threatened her with a knife in her off-campus apartment on 34th and Spring Garden.

"Penn Police, Drexel Police and Philadelphia Police have received reports of four assaults committed over the past five days in the University City area. The suspect in all four assaults targeted females walking alone. The description of the suspect in all four assaults meets the same description."

An alert was also sent to the Drexel Community Thursday morning after an intoxicated man allegedly groped two female students on 34th and 35th and Powelton, according to officials.

Barrett matches the attacker’s description in all five assaults, although he has not been charged. The attacker is accused of preying on young women walking alone in the areas of Penn and Drexel Universities.

They have not connected Barrett to the violent off-campus rape.

Students are urged to walk in groups and Penn and Drexel have amped up police and security presence to ensure the safety of their students, according to the alert.

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