City police increasing patrols in North End

Posted: October 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The city’s North End can expect to see more police presence after a man was beaten with a shovel there last week.

Several residents and city police representatives gathered on Monday night at Stephen’s Restaurant Jazz Cafe at 440 N. Kent St. for a Neighborhood Watch meeting.

Sgt. Frank Myrtle addressed concerns regarding a Thursday night incident in which an 82-year-old man was hit several times in the head with a shovel as he tried to enter his residence in the 200 block of Kern Street.

Police have made no arrests in the incident, which remains under investigation. The suspect was described as a black man wearing brown pants and a dark hooded shirt.

Officials do not know if the attacker was acquainted with the victim.

Myrtle said police are doing everything they can to combat crime in the area.

One of the problems the department encounters, however, is a lack of willingness from residents to speak with officers when necessary.

Myrtle said five people were nearby when the elderly man was attacked, and just one of them talked with police.

“Everyone else refused to give information,” Myrtle said. “It makes it tough, because someone had to see something.”

He added that if people do not want to speak directly to officers, the Crime Solvers Hotline offers anonymity.

Either way, Myrtle said, police will increase patrols. “You’re going to see more police officers in this area. It’s unfortunate that it takes an incident like that.”

He said officers plan to re-canvass the neighborhood and would try again to speak with anyone who may have information about the incident on Thursday night.

The victim, who has returned to work, received staples and stitches as a result of the attack, Myrtle said.

Police spokeswoman Lauren Cummings, who also attended the meeting, said on Tuesday that officers would work with business owners in the North End to improve the area’s security.

Vivian Walker, block captain for the Neighborhood Watch, said a lack of community support is her biggest problem in sustaining the group.

She said many residents attend meetings, vent their concerns and never return, despite the opportunity to work and build rapport with police officers and make the area safer.

“I just need the buy-in from the community,” Walker said, adding that she wants the Neighborhood Watch group to go from “just sitting to doing.”

Anyone with information about Thursday night’s attack may call Crime Solvers at 540-665-8477. If the information leads to an arrest, a reward could be offered.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com