suspect sought in ypsilanti

There was a brutal attack on a woman here in Ypsilanti yesterday morning. According to the report published in today’s Ann Arbor News, she entered her home on Congress Street, after raking leaves, to find a man waiting for her. (She’d seen the same man earlier, trying to get into a vacant house on her street.) The man proceeded to beat her savagely. Roberta Citino, the 49 year old victim, is presently in stable condition, and the police are looking for her assailant. Following is the police description (thanks to Brian for forwarding it):

Incident occurred in the 1100 block of Congress Street within the City of Ypsilanti, on 11/07/05, between the hours of 10:00 am and 11:00 am.

The suspect is a black male, mid 30’s to mid 40’s, 5’10” to 6’02”, slim build, black hair and brown eyes. The suspect was wearing a light brown casual coat, baggy grey sweat pants and dark blue canvas deck style shoes.

Any with information regarding the incident or the suspect in this sketch should contact the Ypsilanti Police Department at (734) 483-9510 or Detective Sgt. Walker at (734) 483-5849.

I just saw the police questioning a man in front of BW3’s a few minutes ago. I didn’t hear what the police were saying, but the man kept repeating, “I’m sorry if it’s a crime, but I was born black.” It wasn’t until I was a block or so away that I realized that they’d probably stopped him because he fit the above description… What made it doubly weird and depressing is that as I was watching this young black man surrounded by white cops, proclaiming his innocence, I was listening to Alan Lomax’s “Negro Prison Songs” on my iPod. While the police appeared to be treating the man well, standing there, listening to the voices of imprisoned black men in the deep south, I couldn’t help but think about our nation’s not so perfect record when it comes to treating men of color as though they too are presumed innocent… In the defense of the police in this case, however, now that I see the artist’s skecth, the man I saw them questioning really did look similar… At any rate, if you should see anything out of the ordinary tonight, and especially if it involves a man fitting the description above, please call the police. (And please keep a positive thought for the Citino family.)

update: Apparently this attack in Normal Park isn’t the only local home-invasion-related story in recent memory. Fellow Ypsi blogger Lynne Fremont recently had a man enter her home as well. Fortunately, she came out of it unscathed, however, and the man, who was completely nude at the time, was taken into custody.

update: And, to preemptively stop my relatives from flooding my in-box with yet another wave of “Get out of Ypsi” emails, I thought I’d share this link to the Ypsi Crime page, which shows, I think, that things aren’t as bad here as you might think after having just read this post… and the one I wrote this weekend about prostitutes and dealers on my street.

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8 Comments

  1. Andy
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    You know Lynne’s incident happened a couple months ago, right?

  2. mark
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Nope… I’ll change the post to reflect that. Thanks.

  3. Kristi
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    The cops are now saying the primary motivation for the crime was rape. I definitely hear what you’re saying re blanket questioning of black men, and I hope the police will show the proper discretion. But as a woman and a very freaked out Normal Park resident, I can’t help thinking–at least right now–that everyone should spare some thoughts for what it’s like to be born female, i.e. a lifelong potential target of broad-daylight sexual assaults, as much as for what it’s like to be born black and perhaps come under unfair suspicion. Things kinda suck for both groups right now.

    Oh, and I agree that your relatives should not worry about Ypsi–our crime rates are actually pretty much on a par with pristine Ann Arbor’s (except of course that unlike in Ann Arbor, there are no roving bands of muggers beating up men walking alone at night in Ypsi). Not that there aren’t rough areas of town, but for the most part this is a fairly sedate place–one reason the Normal Park attack is so scary is because it’s normally such a safe, stable neighborhood.

  4. chris
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Being attacked is horible and I am so sorry that another woman had to experience this.

    mark, where would they have you live instead?

  5. mark
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment Kristi, and I’m sorry if it sounded as though I was being more sympathetic to the young black men being questioned by the cops than to the local women (of all races) who are living in fear that they might be the next to be attacked. Like you say, it sucks for both groups. Hopefully the person will be found soon though, and we can move on as a community… and perhaps even learn from this experience, taking the opportunity to strenghten our neighborhood associations and push our police for greater visability.

  6. john galt
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    here in Atl the press is much more sensitive. They never mention the race of the suspect in an article(if he/she is a minority). For example about a year ago a man raped two women at a university dorm and held their visiting monthers a knifepoint (while he raped their daughters in front of them).. The local paper not only refused to print a suspect photo, but described the “alleged” wrongdoer as a man with dark hair wearing a T-shirt. Seriously, this is an offical policy of the AJC http://www.ajc.com. When you read the crime reports and they are suspiciously absent of any sort of facts about the attackers identity you are supposed to infer that they might be of a “minority” race.

    The policy was apparently formulated in an effort to reduce the perceived notion that minorities commit more crimes than caucasians (not that I’m arguing this point). It seems to me crazy that if a person is of a certain race and they commit a crime, that they are not held to the same standard as a person of a different race that commits the same crime.

  7. Kristi
    Posted November 10, 2005 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think you sounded more sympathetic to the men than the woman who was attacked, Mark! Far from it. And I agree that the best outcome (aside from capturing the suspect, and I’m not too optimistic about that) would be a stronger community. The outpouring of support toward the family affected has been really overwhelming so far.

    By the way, I am hearing that the Ypsi police may be having a public meeting about the case soon, as a way to inform and reassure city residents and especially those in the Normal Park, Midtown, and Woods Road neighborhoods. Don’t know where or when yet, though.

  8. L
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Mark,
    Thank you for posting this description! I actually have Dr. Citino for a history class and it’s terrible that something like this happened while he was teaching our class. I just can’t imagine having to go through that. Thanks for posting the pic and helping trying to catch this guy!

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