Prince George’s County Police have arrested a suspect in connection with a sexual assault in Suitland.

Philip James Fleming of District Heights was arrested Oct. 7 on 10 different charges connected to a Sept. 27 incident in which he allegedly attacked a woman walking to the Suitland Metro Station.

According to police, a man approached a woman at 5:30 a.m. and brandished a weapon and grabbed her by the arm. The assailant walked the woman across the street and behind an abandoned building where he sexually assaulted her.

The victim ran away after the attack.

A second incident, similar in nature, had the police issuing warnings last week as another woman was sexually assaulted on Oct. 4. At 6:45 a.m., the man approached the woman in the same manner as the previous incident. However, the woman fought her attacker off before he was able to take her across the street and ran away.

According to police, Fleming was arrested on an open warrant Oct. 7 and the victims identified him in a lineup as their attacker.

After the Oct. 4 incident, the PGPD asked citizens to “report any suspicious activity that may have been observed in the area. Police also encourage citizens to be mindful of their surroundings, always walk in well lit areas, and walk in groups whenever possible.”

Fleming has a lengthy history of run-ins with the law including a 2002 conviction on weapons charges.

The news of this comes at a bad time for the county as perception of a violent county trumps the reality that the crime rate continues to drop. Just two weeks ago, the county reported the drop in the crime rate at a ceremony touting the summer crime initiative.

Year-to-date crime is down 9 percent in the county with violent crime down 12.1 percent. In Suitland alone, the initiative led to a 23.2 percent drop over the summer.

Under that initiative, the police devoted more resources to specific areas in the county with additional help from other county and state agencies to make sure residents got assistance in other areas.

On the day the results were shared, Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw said that the county would not rest on the results and would continue to work to reduce the crime rate. “We will not abandon our crime fighting and community raising efforts,” Magaw said in a statement.  We will continue to build on the relationships that have been established.  And we will continue to partner with the community and be responsive to their needs as we develop strong, viable, crime resistant neighborhoods.”

Fleming will have a preliminary court date early next month.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO