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Two Arrested in Assault of Philly Park Ranger

Philadelphia police have arrested two people in connection with an assault on a Philadelphia Parks and Recreation ranger in LOVE Park on Friday, law enforcement sources said.

A man whom a police source identified as Curtis Tanner, 19, was taken into custody at his mother's home in Pottstown on Monday morning.

He is expected to face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment of another person, the source said.

A second suspect, a 17-year-old Pottstown boy, was taken into custody Monday evening and was expected to face charges as a juvenile.

Police began their search after a video emerged online over the weekend showing a confrontation at John F. Kennedy Plaza between a man and a ranger. Police said the ranger had asked the man and his friends, who were skateboarding there, to leave because skateboarding is not allowed in the park.

Police said the man told the ranger, "I ain't leaving," then punched and kicked him. Video taken by a witness shows the man kicking the officer as he lay on the ground, while others nearby laugh.

In an interview with 6ABC on Sunday, Tanner told a reporter that he had "lost his cool" and assaulted the ranger.

"If I had the chance, I would apologize to that guy," he told the station. He said he and his friends were walking away, but the ranger "grabbed my friend, and I just stepped in."

The source said the ranger was able to identify the man who assaulted him after he was shown a photo array.

Police also received several tips on the man's identity, the source said.

Michael DiBerardinis, deputy mayor and commissioner of parks and recreation, said he believed the ranger did not have any contact with the assailant until he was punched.

"I think he made a good decision. He protected himself but did not engage these guys," he said.

He declined to name the ranger but said he was taken to the hospital, examined, and released after the incident.

DiBerardinis described the ranger as someone who "takes his work very seriously." He had returned to duty -- although not to LOVE Park -- on Monday, but is set to take a "well-deserved" vacation he had been planning for some time, DiBerardinis said.

Assaults on park rangers are rare, DiBerardinis said. He said he could remember only two such incidents, including Friday's assault, in the last 15 years.

Detectives had searched several locations in Pottstown on Monday looking for Tanner, the source said. He was brought into custody without incident when his mother called detectives after he arrived at her house, the source said.

awhelan@philly.com

215-854-2961

@aubreyjwhelan

Copyright 2014 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

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