Scores of Detroiters gathered Thursday night to take back the streets of northeast Detroit.“Nobody in the streets can beat us when we come together as one and say, ‘No more in Detroit,’ ” Raphael B. Johnson said into a bullhorn, surrounded by residents preparing to blanket the area around Gratiot and 7 Mile with sketches of the man police suspect of raping seven young women this year.
Johnson and other members of the group Detroit 300 urged women to avoid being on the streets after 9 p.m. The group, which coordinated Thursday night’s effort with Detroit police, has been credited with helping solve the August rape of a 90-year-old woman on the west side.
Maurice Black, 43, said he came out because he hopes someone who knows the rapist will come forward.
“This is somebody’s brother. This is somebody’s cousin,” Black said. “All we ask is that you turn him in so we can get him some help.”
Cassandra Crutchen said her 19-year-old daughter was attacked.
She told the volunteers: “We’re going to catch him.”
Police have said women were attacked near Gratiot and 7 Mile, Hazelridge and Hayes and near Cadieux and I-94. A possible eighth victim was attacked in Highland Park near the Detroit border on Jan. 6, said Highland Park Detective Sgt. Brenda Perkins.
Detroit police have described the suspect as being in his 30s, 5 feet 9 with a thin build, dark complexion, mustache and goatee.
Police say most of the victims have been 19 to 22 years old, and were attacked in late evening or early morning while walking alone or waiting at bus stops. In one case, a woman was attacked after the man bumped her vehicle and she got out.
Police said the man takes the women at gunpoint to a secluded location, where he robs and sexually assaults them. Perkins said the Highland Park victim did not say she had been robbed.
Another young woman was raped Thursday evening near Kercheval and Lakewood on Detroit’s east side, but police said they don’t believe the suspected serial rapist is responsible.
Read our previous post on the Detroit 300 here