Woman beaten, raped at gunpoint in Highland Park; suspect at large

Highland Park police are searching for a person who beat and raped a woman at gunpoint.

According to police, the 36-year-old woman was walking on Harper Street Sunday afternoon when she was approached by an armed man who forced her into the basement of a nearby apartment building. Police say the man punched the woman repeatedly and sexually assaulted her.

Police were seen examining the area this morning.

Although police have a description of the suspect, a sketch has not yet been released, but may be soon, according to one of the officers.

A young lady living on Harper Street for two years says she is now very concerned to walk in the area alone.

"This was something I considered to be the safest place in New Jersey and it's something I used to tell my parents and that this was the safest neighborhood in New Jersey," says Amanda Piedra. "Lots of people walk their dogs out here, I used to walk out here all the time and now I don't."

The woman was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital where she is listed in stable condition.

Officials say the suspect was a black man in his early- to mid-20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a medium build. He had short hair and was wearing a red T-shirt, black jacket and gray sweatpants.

Anyone who might have information about the attack is asked to call Detective McGraw of the Highland Park Police Department at 723-572-3800 or Detective Bitterman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office at 732-745-4401.

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