Mike Newall, Philly News, June 29, 2011
The two young women were sitting at a window table inside the Max Brenner restaurant on 15th Street, near Walnut, sharing chocolate fondue after some shopping.
The streets were vibrant. The weather was nice.
But their night on the town was about to become frightening.
Heading their way was a pack of teens roving through Center City after leaving a North Philadelphia music festival.
They were part of about 100 or more young people who had left Saturday night’s event, police said, committing a series of violent assaults and robberies, including one against Maria, 25, of North Philadelphia, and her cousin Cecilia, 29, of Havertown.
Erica Rockymore, 18, of North Philadelphia, was also among the teens, police said. Last week, she graduated from the Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter High School, her family said. Her 14-year-old sister asked her to take her to the festival. Rockymore is in jail, too, charged with assaulting Maria.
Maria and Cecilia were enjoying their dessert at Max Brenner, with its large, open bay doors. Afterward, Maria, an interior and industrial designer, had planned to visit a Northern Liberties art exhibit. Cecilia was heading home.
The women had spent the afternoon dress shopping. Maria is getting married soon.
About 10 p.m., Maria said, she saw a shirtless teenager run past the restaurant.
Before she could tell Cecilia to put her cell phone away, another teen reached through the window and snatched it.
Maria ran out after him.
She was on the sidewalk, starting to scream “thief,” she said, when someone from behind punched her in the jaw.
She said she turned, jaw throbbing, to see the girl who had hit her standing with five other teens. “What are you going to do?” she said the girl who had punched her yelled.
The teens were laughing, she said. “They were fearless. It seemed like they weren’t taking anything serious.”
The girls in the group called her a slut as they left, she said.