New Jersey

CAUGHT ON CAM: Skateboarder Violently Attacks City Park Ranger

Cell phone video captured a skateboarder kicking a city park ranger in his head and then spitting on the man in Philadelphia's LOVE Park Friday, leading Philadelphia Police to open an investigation into the attack.

"I ain't (explective) leaving," said one skateboarder before punching the 35-year-old park ranger in the face and wrestling him to the ground.

The violent altercation occurred around 5 p.m. in the iconic Center City park, located at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, according to Mariano Verrico, of Essex Fells, N.J., who caught the fight on camera.

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"He got kicked in the head repeatedly and spit on," he said. "When he was down towards the end..., the one kid who did everything leaned down and spit on him. It was really disgraceful."

Verrico said he accompanied the park ranger, and the victim's supervisor, to a Philadelphia Police Station and turned his video over to investigators. NBC10 also sent the video Saturday to Central Detectives, who said they were unaware of the incident at the time.

They are currently investigating and released descriptions of the three skateboarders. Offender number one is 19-years-old, 5-feet 10-inches with dred locks. He wore a gray t-shirt and dark pants with red lettering on the front. The second offender is described as 19- to 20-years-old with a black t-shirt and black pants. The third offender is 19-years-old, 5-feet 9-inches and he wore a black T-shirt with a white design on the front.

Verrico stopped at LOVE Park, where police began enforcing a skateboarding ban in 2002, with his friends and cousins, who he was visiting for the day in Philadelphia, he said.

Sitting near the fountain, Verrico said he heard the park ranger warn several young men that they had to stop skateboarding in the park because there were too many young children in the area.

"Basically, he was just doing his job," Verrico said. "His voice wasn't raised. He wasn't cursing."

One skateboarder punched the ranger -- who was standing next to a staircase -- and he fell backwards onto the ground, said Verrico, who added he was nervous to intervene since he was outsized.

The video shows the park ranger's hands raised in the air, but Verrico said the victim never threw a punch and only kept his arms up to defend himself.

"He never once tried to fight with the kid," he said. "He never threw any type of punch at the kid or said anything negative."

The assailant continues to attack the park ranger, kicking the man in the head as onlookers stood by. The ranger suffered injuries to his head, but is expected to be okay. 

The city's Parks and Recreation Department has not yet replied for requests for comment.

The incident is one of many reported between skaterboarders and authorities in LOVE Park in recent years.

Two skateboarders attacked another city park ranger in May 2004 when the official attempted to cite the pair and confiscate their boards. Years later, the dynamic reportedly flipped as police officers allegedly chased skateboarders down, tackled them and deployed Tasers.

While the skateboarding ban at LOVE Park is still in place, authorities often tolerate the young men and woman speeding past tourists and grinding their boards along the planters.

Councilman Jim Kenney suggested Philadelphia City Council alter the regulations to include space for the skateboarders to legally pop ollies in the park earlier this year.

Members of Kenney's staff told in June that they are working to include a legal skate spot   in an already-established master plan to redesign LOVE Park. But the recent addition of the skateboard-friendly Paine's Park along the Schuylkill River Trail could lead city officials to curb suggestions from Kenney's office.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

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