WJZ sports director assaulted while jogging in Druid Hill Park

WJZ sports director Mark Viviano was assaulted by teens as he jogged through Druid Hill Park on Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Viviano was wearing headphones as he ran through the park and past three teens when one struck him in the head from behind, said Agent Donny Moses, a spokesman with the city department. Viviano said he did not hear the teens come up behind him about 1 p.m. He said a second teen tried to hit him but missed. He said they exchanged words, but Viviano continued to run, while the teens ran the other way.

Viviano said he was not injured. After the incident, he flagged down a police officer in the park, he said.

Since Viviano was out for a jog with only his radio, he said he didn't think it was a robbery attempt, just a "random act."

Viviano, who runs regularly in the area, said he's not planning to change his routine, but "I want people to be aware it can happen."

Appearing on WYPR Thursday, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said he was troubled that proper notifications were not made by his officers to alert department staff that Viviano had been assaulted.

"I had issues with the way Viviano's case was investigated, through ways of system errors," Bealefeld told host and Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks. "If that doesn't make its way up to the [public affairs office], what else am I missing?"

On the Ed Norris show on 105.7 FM, Viviano said that his experience was minor compared to "the number of people who suffer assaults with serious consequences."

He said on the radio show that his attack does not reflect badly on Baltimore, and that incidents like this happen everywhere, including in his hometown of St. Louis, where he said his father once was shot and robbed on his way to church. His father survived.

It "happens anywhere, any time," he said. "It's just more of a testament to people have bad intentions or just no conscience sometimes. It can happen here, it happens everywhere."

But on WYPR, Bealefeld said Viviano was downplaying the incident and citizens should keep it in perspective. He was asked what sort of complaints he hears most frequently at neighborhood events.

"I hear Viviano stories. I hear the same sentiment he has; I hear, ‘Look, my car got broken into. My house got broken into. But I'm not going to alter my life,'" Bealefeld said, adding that residents say such incidents are what spurs them to get involved.


Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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