DEMETRICE REYNOLDS said she had one wish for the thug who brutally raped her 11-year-old daughter: "I want him dead."
Her wish may as well have been broadcast across Kensington.
About a dozen neighborhood residents flew into a rage yesterday afternoon when they cornered Jose Carrasquillo, who police said they had linked through physical evidence to the heinous Monday-morning rape of Reynolds' daughter.
The justice-seeking mob rained fists, feet and wooden sticks upon Carrasquillo, 26, for several minutes until police intervened at Front and Clearfield streets.
When the dust cleared, Carrasquillo, whose last known address was Orkney Street near York, was in critical condition at a local hospital, and police officials were thanking the locals for helping them catch a man they had pursued feverishly but identified only as "a person of interest."
"Justice, community-style. It's a beautiful thing," said a resident who declined to be identified.
"The people took it [the case] to heart," said Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey. "It says a lot about the community."
Ramsey noted, however, that he didn't condone the burst of vigilante justice. "They injured him pretty badly," he said.
Carrasquillo, who was being treated at Temple University Hospital last night for an array of head wounds, has not been charged with raping Reynolds' daughter, a fifth-grader at Russell Conwell Middle School who was attacked while walking to school.
Law-enforcement sources said that detectives are still compiling evidence for their case against Carrasquillo. Charges will have to be approved by the District Attorney's Office.
Police began circulating Carrasquillo's mug shot across the city yesterday morning, but seemed to walk a fine line in how they portrayed him.
Capt. John Darby, the commander of the Special Victims Unit, said at a morning news conference that police wanted to bring Carrasquillo in only "for contempt of court, for a prior summary offense."
But he added that investigators had "linked [Carrasquillo] through physical evidence" to a rear yard on Westmoreland Street near Emerald, where the rape occurred.
"We know this male was in that yard," said Darby.
News of Carrasquillo's public beating and subsequent capture delighted Reynolds, who spent yesterday by her daughter's side at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where the girl had undergone surgery to repair the injuries she suffered when she was repeatedly raped.
"I'm glad," Reynolds said. "I'm really happy. I mean, he deserves worse than what he did to my daughter."
She said her daughter is an "A" student who enjoys computers and reading.
Brenda Orr, the girl's grandmother, said the youngster "knows they got him, and they can tell because her whole demeanor has changed. She doesn't look scared anymore."
Darby said the girl's ordeal began about 8:20 a.m., when she took her younger sister to the Little Treasures day-care center in Kensington.
A man began walking alongside the two girls and even managed to get inside the day-care facility.
"He was buzzed into the day care. I spoke with them yesterday. They thought he was with her," Reynolds said.
"They should have known something was up. This could have been prevented," Reynolds added.
Employees at the center yesterday declined to comment.
Darby said the man followed Reynolds' daughter after she left the center and threatened to shoot her if she didn't stay with him.
They wandered six blocks to a yard on Westmoreland, where the girl was raped several times, Darby said.
"She didn't deserve this," said Cynthia Orr, the victim's aunt. "That girl never hurt nobody."
"He's going to burn in hell for that," she added. "He wouldn't want someone doing that to his kids."
A manhunt was soon born, with Carrasquillo the focus, even though he was not formally accused of the crime.
The Fraternal Order of Police offered $10,000 to anyone who could help get Carrasquillo into custody by 5 p.m. yesterday. Carrasquillo was apprehended about an hour earlier.
Last night, FOP president John McNesby said two Kensington residents who helped apprehend Carrasquillo were going to receive the reward. "They stepped up big time," he said.
Indeed, few in law enforcement expected the show of community force that was displayed about 4 p.m. yesterday under the red, white and blue awning of the Villa Tapia convenience store at Front and Clearfield streets.
That's where, police said, an angry mob confronted Carrasquillo. Many residents who applauded the attackers crowded into the store last night to watch a surveillance tape of the beating.
Kris Torres and Louis Rodriguez, two neighborhood kids, said they spotted Carrasquillo wearing a gray T-shirt, dark jeans and carrying a black trash bag.
"Aren't you the guy who raped the little girl?" Torres said he asked.
Carrasquillo told Torres that he wasn't the rapist and claimed he had daughters of his own.
"No, I'm not having it," Torres said he replied.
Punches were thrown and a mob beating ensued.
"Everyone in the neighborhood were looking for him," Torres said. "Everyone came together. We feel as though we did a good thing."
Rodriguez added: "We held him down to make sure he didn't go anywhere."
Patrol cops who were in the area looking for Carrasquillo happened upon the scene and intervened, said Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Wright.
The attack "never should have happened," Wright added.
Seven years ago, at age 19, Jose Carrasquillo was accused of trying to rape a woman in Kensington, just a half block from the day-care center.
Ramsey said that the 2002 case was one of 17 arrests that litter Carrasquillo's adult criminal record.
The details of the case may offer an eerie insight into the latest accusation.
About 1:30 a.m. on April 16, 2002, a woman walking by herself was approached on Potter Street near F Street by a man whom she later identified as Carrasquillo, according to court records.
She said he attempted to engage her in conversation and grabbed her breasts before he latched on to her throat and dragged her into a nearby alleyway, police said.
As he pulled the woman, Carrasquillo allegedly said: "Get in the alley. I'm not playing. You're gonna give me p----," court records stated.
The victim began to scream for her landlord, which caused her attacker to flee on foot, police said.
The woman was able to run home and call 9-1-1, and as a result of information she provided, police stopped and arrested Carrasquillo.
The charges were withdrawn by the prosecution, though the spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office yesterday wasn't immediately able to say why.
When arrested yesterday, Carrasquillo was serving state probation on drug charges and is scheduled for trial in June on additional drug charges.
Carrasquillo's relatives quietly mulled over the latest case to which he is now linked.
Jose Carrasquillo's older brother, Alex, 28, speaking as if his brother is guilty, said that the attack was "wrong" but that it was the result of a years-long drug habit.
"Everybody knows him to be a good dude. He got a drug problem," he said yesterday afternoon from his home on Wishart Street near Howard, a few blocks from where Jose Carrasquillo was attacked and arrested. "If he wasn't messed up, he never would have done it. You can't only blame it on him."
Jose Carrasquillo's aunt Tammy Rhodes, who'd seen Carrasquillo the day before the girl was attacked, said Carrasquillo's behavior spiraled down after the death of his mother in 1999, and then his grandmother two years ago. "He was miserable. He wasn't working," she said.
But she said she's still troubled over it. "I'm just in shock that that activity would hit his mind," she said. "What pushed him into the situation?" she asked before entering her car and driving off.
Police said that during the attack, the assailant told the girl his name was Alex. But last night, Alex seemed unfazed by the claim.
"Me and my brother is real close," said Alex, Jose's older brother. "That's my heart right there. He's not trying to put me out there, not trying to play me out. I don't hold nothing against him." *