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HIGHLAND PARK, NJ—A 36-year-old woman was severely beaten and sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Highland Park on February 19, according to a statement from the county’s top law enforcement official.
The violent attack occurred shortly before 5:30pm on the unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, near the intersection of South 1st Avenue and Harper Street. Sources told ABC New York that the woman had been walking with her young child at the time.
Authorities say they are searching for the unidentified man who did it, and the woman was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for treatment.
The official statement described the attacker as “a black male in his early to mid-20s, five-feet, seven-inches tall with a medium build and short hair,” and noted that he “was wearing a red T-shirt, black jacket and grey sweatpants.”
Police first learned of the attack at 5:30 p.m. after the victim ran to the neighbor’s home following the attack and the resident called police.
The Borough’s police department first announced the crime at 12:11pm, though their public alert did not include a suspect description or mention the sexual nature of the crime, instead referring to it simply as “an assault”
“An assault took place on February 19, 2017 at approximately 5:30pm by an unknown male,” read the brief announcement sent out as an alert using the borough’s Nixle emergency alet system.
“The assailant confronted the victim at South 1st Avenue and Johnson Street and forced her to walk to Harper Street, where the assault took place.”
But, at 1:53pm, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) issued its own more detailed press release.
“During the investigation it was determined that the victim was walking on Harper Street when the suspect approached her at gunpoint , forced her in the basement of a nearby apartment building, and repeatedly punched her before sexually assaulting her and fleeing,” reads the MCPO release.
The incident is being investigated by Detective Sean McGraw of the Highland Park Police Department and Detective Allie Bitterman of the MCPO.
The investigation is “active” and “continuing,” according to the official MCPO statement, which was not sent to any New Brunswick Today reporters because we were all removed from the list in 2016.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective McGraw at (723) 572-3800, or Detective Bitterman at (732) 745-4401.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.