Two men with handguns attacked a 59-year-old grandmother in her Roland Park home and forced her to an upstairs bedroom where one of them raped her, Baltimore police said yesterday.
The assault occurred about 8:30 p.m. Thursday in a tree-canopied North Baltimore neighborhood that has been mostly isolated from the violent crime afflicting other parts of the city.
The Sun does not identify people who have said they are victims of sex crimes.
Detectives believe the woman might have been targeted while she was out shopping, said Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department.
Investigators "are retracing her steps to figure out where [the men] may have come from and how she was picked," Clifford said.
After returning home, the woman was alone in her kitchen, putting away her purchases when she heard footsteps. She had left her front door unlocked, police said.
The attackers, each with a handgun, grabbed her arms and held them behind her back as they pushed her upstairs, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.
They also ransacked the woman's house and took a small amount of cash before fleeing on foot, police said.
When the woman was certain that the men were gone, Harris said, she called 911 about 8:50 p.m.
She was taken to Mercy Medical Center for evaluation and evidence collection, and she remained there last night for treatment of a back injury, police said.
Police released a composite sketch of a suspect last night.
This year, there have been 72 reported rapes in Baltimore, about the same number as at this time last year, police said.
"This sort of incident doesn't happen with any regularity anywhere in the city," Clifford said. "And it's extremely uncharacteristic for this neighborhood."
Word of the attack, in an area of Roland Park called Tuxedo Park, circulated among neighbors and on message boards and e-mail networks.
Residents were dumbfounded.
"To my recollection, I think it's the worst thing that's happened here," said Nicholas Fessenden, who has lived in the community since 1975.
"There has been crime, but usually petty things. Violent crimes - we haven't had much of that. Maybe a couple of times an assault or something. This is unprecedented."
The neighborhood, bounded by Roland Avenue to the west and Stoney Run to the east, is filled with well-kept old homes, gardens and local businesses.
The nearby Eddie's Market, banks, dentists, a dry cleaner's and post office keep many residents on foot. Four schools, including Friends School and the College of Notre Dame, also are within walking distance.
"It's really a neighborhood," Fessenden said. "People who live on the same block usually know each other pretty well."
The woman's next-door neighbor, who did not want to be named for fear that it might identify the woman who was attacked, said most people in the neighborhood know the woman.
He said she has adult children and grandchildren. She is a professional and has lived in the house for many years, he said.
The man said his family passes many hours on their home's porches, and that it was unusual they weren't outside Thursday evening. With the cooler weather, he said, they had chosen to eat dinner inside.
When police and emergency vehicles crowded the one-way street about 9 p.m., neighbors streamed outside to see what was going on.
"There was great concern among all of us," he said. "Anger. Fear. Guilt for having not made a difference."