A 22-year-old man was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with sexually assaulting a woman over the weekend in a bathroom stall at the Macy’s in Center City.
Investigators said a tipster called police Tuesday night to identify 22-year-old Jaleel Uqdah, of West Philadelphia, and the 55-year-old victim confirmed he was her attacker.
Uqdah allegedly entered the store, housed in the former Wanamaker’s building at 13th and Market streets, shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday and went directly to the third floor bathroom area, where he waited for about 20 minutes, police said.
The woman, who was shopping with her husband, told investigators the suspect jumped into her stall, dragged her into another stall and raped her. He was wielding wooden barbecue-style skewers and threatened to stab her to death.
Police said he also took between $60 to $80 in cash from the woman, who immediately told her husband and Macy’s personnel about the incident.
Detectives found one of the skewers, as well as the clothes worn by the suspect at the time of the attack, when they searched Uqdah’s house on the 1200 of N. 53rd Street.
He has been charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, robbery and redlated offenses, authorities said Wednesday.
“This is the kind of crime that tears apart society,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement. “Its terrible message to women is that they are not safe in society or in their daily lives.”
It was unclear whether Uqdah had secured legal counsel Wednesday.
Capt. Mark Burgmann, who oversees the Special Victims Unit, said police are examining sexual assault reports from around the city, and he encouraged anyone with similar accounts to come forward.
“We’re thinking about the possibility that there may be other victims,” he said. “We don’t have any other reports. Maybe there are other victims who never came forward.”
A spokesperson from the Philadelphia Police Department said Uqdah’s mugshot was not available at the time Metro went to print.
Burgmann credited SEPTA with undergoing the painstaking process of reviewing surveillance footage to track Uqdoh.
After leaving Macy’s, he allegedly boarded a Market Frankford line train to 52nd Street and took a bus to 52nd and Girard Avenue.
Investigators released two separate videos, including clearer footage showing the suspect at a convenience store in West Philadelphia.
Uqdah has a pending burglary case, brought in June, and an active theft case from August 2019. In both instances, the DA’s Office said, proceedings were delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Legal records show Uqdah was released on $5,000 unsecured bail, which he would have to pay if he misses court, following the burglary charges.
Krasner said his office intends to seek to have Uqdah held without bail in the rape case.
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