HE “lies in wait” for his victims then strikes from behind in the dark of the night.
Police believe one man is responsible for nearly a dozen violent assaults where unsuspecting strangers have been struck in the face or head with a weapon, in Waltham and downtown Boston, Massachusetts.
The suspect is often wearing a hoodie when he strikes[/caption]
Emerson Aroche Paz sustained a fractured skull in the random attack[/caption]
One victim, Emerson Aroche Paz, 41, was left bloodied and bruised after being viciously attacked in a “surprise assault” by the man on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Paz said he felt “one big hit in (his) left eye” and nearly fell to the ground before the attacker delivered another blow “in the back of (his) head”, according to reports.
In a Facebook post, the mechanic said he believed the attacker had struck him with “some sort of manopla or baseball bat”.
“I did not have the opportunity to defend myself because the coward who assaulted me did so without notice,” Paz wrote on Facebook.
“I beg you to be careful.”
Paz was left with a cracked skull, broken nose, and a ton of medical bills, according to a fundraiser set up to help cover his health care costs.
Police have increased the reward to $5000[/caption]
On Thursday, Waltham police released two new clips from security footage showing a suspect on the night of November 25.
The first video shows the man in the distance running south on Prospect Street before turning west onto Bedford Street. The second video shows the same person from a different angle as he walks west down Bedford Street.
The serial attacker is often wearing a hoodie and preys on people who appear “distracted or otherwise unaware of the attacker’s presence,” according to police.
One victim was walking a dog. Another was getting into a vehicle. A US mail carrier was attacked while going door-to-door. The latest attack happened the day after Thanksgiving.
But the unidentified attacker’s motive for assaulting at least 10 men in unprovoked attacks in recent weeks is unclear.
Chief Keith MacPherson said the assailant appeared to be carrying out the attacks for “a thrill of the assault (as) someone who’s very violent and enjoys seeing someone hurt by this”.
He appears to “be lying in wait for the victims, intentionally selecting victims who were distracted or otherwise unaware of the attacker’s presence,” MacPherson added.
Several victims were hit so hard that they were knocked to the ground. Some required hospitalization for serious injuries, including orbital facial fractures, a fractured nose, and lacerations to the face, MacPherson said.
The initial attacks occurred within the Gardencrest apartment complex on Middlesex Circle, Waltham. Subsequent assaults have been reported in the downtown area, around Chestnut and Charles streets, police said.
CCTV footage shows a man in a hoodie running from one of the crime scenes[/caption]
All incidents have occurred after dark, the earliest at 5.30 pm and the latest around 11.30 pm.
“It happens real quickly,” MacPherson said.
“(The victims are) frequently knocked down, and the suspect takes off afterwards.
“There’s never been a robbery.
“It’s always been just an assault.”
Waltham Police Det. Sgt. Stephen McCarthy, the lead investigator probing the string of attacks, told reporters there was “definitely a fear factor in our city right now”.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said on Tuesday.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I’m not losing sleep at night, you know, coming into work. This is an awful situation.”
Working off anonymous tips, rough descriptions of a potential suspect from victims, and two surveillance video clips of a possible perpetrator, police on Tuesday sought to bolster the public’s help through offering a $5,000 reward for information about the serial incidents.
Authorities have also increased patrols of the city’s downtown with both uniformed and plain clothes personnel roaming in vehicles and on foot, according to police.
Additionally, the department has deployed several drone units in hopes of tracking a suspect should there be another attack.
Authorities are considering a couple of persons of interest but do not have a clear suspect in mind, MacPherson said during a press conference.
“We have gotten some tips, some leads through our anonymous tip line, which we’re poring through now trying to get more information on the suspect,” he continued.
“But as to this point, right now, we do not have a specific suspect.”
The injuries have been “pretty substantial” and have included facial fractures and lacerations, he said.
Investigators believe the injuries could not have been dealt by a fist alone. Some victims were hospitalized; of those who were, all have been released.
The men who were attacked are racially diverse and range in age from 20s to late 40s, MacPherson said.
“In all cases, people are being approached from behind, whether they’re getting into the car or, you know, walking their dog — that was one instance — but they’re all surprise attacks,” he said.
“And as far as identifying this person, one trait in common: They’re usually in like a hoodie-type attire that’s tucked down pretty tight, so it’s tough for the victim to get a good description before the person flees the area.”
Authorities said the alleged perpetrator has been described as a Black man between 5’5″ and 6 feet tall and weighing 160 to 180 pounds.
In a social media post on November 20, after five attacks were reported around the Gardencrest complex, police said an assailant was seen wearing black clothing.
According to police, downtown patrol presence in Waltham has seen a dramatic increase through state and local resources, both in uniform and in plainclothes, in cars and on foot. Authorities have also deployed several drones to enhance surveillance throughout the city.
Five of the incidents occurred near the sprawling Gardencrest apartment complex, but the more recent five happened in the city’s downtown. The attacks have taken place between 5:30 and 11:30 p.m.
Police said they have no reports of a firearm being used during any of the assaults.
An eleventh incident was reported by police on Monday, though it took place before the Friday night incident. Someone was hit with a blunt object in downtown Waltham, according to an anonymous tip provided to police.
Criminologist and Northeastern University professor Dr. James Alan Fox says the attacks could be for a “thrill factor.”
“Someone who’s doing it for thrill, who enjoys the idea of overpowering individuals,” Fox said. “Also someone who might enjoy holding the entire city of Waltham in his grip of terror.”
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So far, all the victims have been men.
“He may think that overpowering a woman is just not fair game, not a level playing field, so he may have his own sense that’s too easy in his mind,” Fox said.
The most recent attack was reported Friday night by a man who said he was hit in the face with a blunt object. Emerson Aroche Paz said he was on his way home from work the night before Thanksgiving when a man walked right by him and attacked out of nowhere.