Police search for man wanted in random machete attacks in Philadelphia park

Philadelphia police on Friday said they were searching for the person behind a series of random machete attacks in a park popular with hikers, runners and bicyclists.

Two people sustained injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening in the November attacks in northeast Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park, police Inspector DeShawn Beaufort said at a news conference.

The random nature of the violence concerned police, who stepped up patrols of the park.

“It was without provocation,” Beaufort said. “He just started attempting to stab the persons while they were on the trail.”

The first attack happened at 8:15 a.m. on Nov. 22 when a runner warned a bicyclist they were approaching from behind, according to a police statement.

The bicyclist responded by attacking with a machete, slashing the victim’s arms and hands, police said.

The second happened about 9 a.m. on Nov. 24, when the victim, walking with a companion along the park’s eponymous trail, was similarly slashed, police said.

In both cases, the victims were hospitalized, police said. Their conditions were unavailable.

On Wednesday, a park pedestrian reported to detectives that around 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 25, a person with a similar description had yelled at her, and tried to retrieve a “an unknown object” from his bicycle, police said in Friday’s statement.

“The complainant reported that the male became agitated and began yelling at her,” police said in their statement. “The complainant fled the area.”

Detectives believe the person had a “machete-style knife tied to his bike,” Beaufort said.

The person was described as a “medium complexion” Latino man, around 5 feet, 10 inches, and 180 pounds. He is in his 40s or 50s, or possibly 60s, and was wearing a black hoodie, all black clothing, and riding a black BMX bicycle. BMX bicycles are predominantly small.

“I recommend that you do not attempt to approach this male,” Beaufort said. “Call us immediately.”