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The Boston Globe

Metro

Police boost patrols in the North End

Seeking suspect following assault

Boston police are upping patrols in the North End after a woman was sexually assaulted there early Saturday morning, a superintendent said Sunday night.

“Both the mayor and the police commissioner are very concerned that a young lady, walking alone, was accosted in this manner down here in the North End,” Superintendent Robert Merner said while standing at the end of busy Salem Street.

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Police have said the woman, who is in her 20s, was walking near Unity Street around 1 a.m. Saturday when a man shoved her into a foyer, assaulted her, and took a picture of her with his cellphone before running off.

Authorities described the suspect as a clean-shaven man in his 20s with short spiked blond hair and blue eyes. He allegedly wore a dark pea coat, dark hat, jeans, and work boots.

On Sunday, investigators also released surveillance video of a man they believe was near the scene around the time of the attack. The footage shows a person alternating between a brisk walk and light jog on the sidewalk, but police did not call him a suspect.

“He could either be a person that saw something or was in the area at the time the incident took place,” Merner said.

Police advised people walking in the North End to walk in groups, keep to well-lit areas, and avoid distractions such as cellphones or iPods.

‘He could either be a person that saw something or was in the area at the time the incident took place.’

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The North End has been the site of past sexual assaults, though Merner said authorities had not issued any alerts for the area in the last year. He said the Saturday morning attack did not appear to be related to previous incidents.

The area often teems with people walking between bars and restaurants at 1 a.m., but Merner said foul weather might have emptied the streets this weekend. He said the neighborhood’s small winding roads create places where people can become isolated.

The victim of Saturday’s alleged assault was treated at the scene for injuries that were not life-threatening. Merner did not have an update on her condition Sunday night.

Detectives with the department’s sexual assault unit are investigating the attack. Anyone with information should call 617-343-4400, or report a tip anonymously by calling 1-800-494-8477 or texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).

Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at zachary.sampson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZackSampson.
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