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Woman a random victim of assault 'game'

Beaten, taunted by kids walking through park;cops arrest girl, 12

Belinda Moore, with bruises under each eye, was attacked by a group of kids as a Southwest Philly playground. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff)
Belinda Moore, with bruises under each eye, was attacked by a group of kids as a Southwest Philly playground. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff)Read more

In the same Southwest Philadelphia park where Belinda Moore used to play with her son, who died of asthma in 2005, she was brutally attacked Friday night by a group of kids who were playing what police said is a "game."

When the kids ripped Moore's hat off during the attack, she said they called her a "bald-headed b----." When she begged for the hat back, they stomped on it.

When she told them her son had died, that she'd been through so much already, she said they taunted her with his death.

And when she begged for mercy, they showed her none.

Police said they arrested one 12-year-old girl for the assault and have the names of another 12-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy who were involved.

Police said Moore's was the second random beating this month by a group of kids in or near Finnegan Playground, at Grovers Avenue and 70th Street.

A 73-year-old man remains in the hospital as a result of a beating on March 13 that police believe may have been committed by some of the same juveniles.

Police learned through interviews that the beatings were a twisted "game" called "Catch and Wreck."

The only rules appear to be surrounding unsuspecting people and beating them senselessly.

Moore, 41, who is out of work, was on her way home after cleaning her mother's house for a few dollars and walked through the playground about 9:30 p.m. She noticed a group of boys and girls - she estimates 20, police say eight - but thought nothing of them.

"I remember thinking it was a beautiful night," she said. "Before I knew it, I had people circling me and chanting, 'Fight! Fight! Fight!' "

That's when one girl grabbed Moore's bag and another snatched her hat. Moore said she has lost much of her hair as a result of the depression she suffers because of her son's death.

"I was just begging them, 'Don't do this, I'm not bothering nobody. Give me my hat back,' " she said. "They were cussing at me and calling me a 'bald-headed b----.' "

Moore said she was then hit in the back with a stick and punched on one side of her face, then on the other, by different people.

She couldn't see who hit her or where the next punch was coming from because the kids continued to move in a circle around her the entire time, she said.

"Then they took a stick and knocked me in the knees until I fell down," she said. "They kicked me in the back. I was crying and begging for these people to stop and they just wouldn't stop.

"I just begged God to help me because I knew I didn't have no chance with these kids."

Moore said she was in a ball on the ground and somehow - she believes it was her prayer - mustered the strength to get up and run to a nearby house, where a resident helped her call 9-1-1.

Moore was able to run away with her hat and her bag, which had been ransacked. The gang took the little money she had. The bread and cupcake her mother had given her were smashed on the ground in front of her face.

"What did they get out of doing it to me? What did they get by hurting me?" she asked. "They don't even know what I was going through in my own life."

She said she was at Southwest Detectives until 2 the next morning. After that, she went home to shower and sleep before going to the hospital, where she was treated for swelling, bruises and a large contusion to her head.

Moore said she was told that police captured four juveniles - three girls and a boy - and that one of the kids responsible, a 12-year-old girl, was pregnant.

Police couldn't confirm that and said that only one 12-year-old girl was in custody, charged with aggravated assault, robbery and related crimes.

Police believe that the attack on Vincent Poppa, 73, was just as random. He was walking home from a Chinese-food store about 9:30 p.m. on March 13 when he was pushed to the ground by a group of five or six boys near the playground, police said.

He was punched, kicked and robbed of two bottles of soda and $200 he had with him. He remains at Methodist Hospital.

Moore said she was upset to hear she wasn't the first victim.

"I don't know if these kids hate society or hate life itself but I cannot believe they could do that to someone," she said. "Where is all that hatred coming from when you're only 11 or 12?"