AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are searching for men they say assaulted two women in two separate incidents over the past few weeks in East Austin.
The first incident happened on Nov. 10 around 9:30 a.m. at East Fifth and Pedernales Streets. In that case, police say a man assaulted the victim and then took off on a bicycle. The second incident happened on Nov. 30 around 11 a.m. on the Hike and Bike Trail between Pedernales and Llano Streets. The victim in this case fought back and the man ran away.
“We come and walk almost every day, and it’s just such a neat and quiet space,” says Hike and Bike Trail regular, Darcy Barger. “So it does concern me that there’s somebody out there that is maybe kind of watching us.”
Barger typically doesn’t walk alone, but rather with her Doberman and Catahoula by her side.
“They’re always looking out for their mom, we look out for each other,” said Barger.
After hearing about the recent attack on the trail, walking with the dogs helps put her mind at ease.
“It definitely does make me sad, I just feel sad for the people who were victimized,” said Barger. “But as I said, it could happen anywhere. So, the trail is still going to be part of our daily routine for sure.”
Steve Sisson, co-owner of Rogue Running says runners shouldn’t go out alone, especially in isolated areas like trails.
“I do think Austin is an incredibly safe place to run,” said Sisson. “But we do have these isolated incidents where people are running by themselves and a predator has decided to take advantage of that.”
He says wearing headphones can also put you at risk. Not only does it block the noise of a possible attacker approaching, but it can put you in a zone where you’re not as aware of your surroundings.
Bonica Ayala lives right at east 5th and Pedernales Streets. The same corner where a woman one of the women says she was attacked.
“I think it’s terrible. Definitely a little frightening for sure. I think it’s really terrible you can’t just go running or feel safe in your neighborhood,” said Bonica.
It has people like Shelly Crossland who just started a new job nearby looking over her shoulder now as she walks to her car.”
“It makes me a little nervous because I park here and walk in the morning and at night,” said Shelly.
In the meantime, she hopes police will beef up patrols in the area so she and other women can feel more secure.
Austin Police say if you’re going to wear headphones, keep the volume low, or use just one earphone.
In both cases, the suspects are described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s. He is approximately 5’08” to 6′ tall with short brown hair.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sex Crimes tip line at 512-974-5230.
We checked the city’s crime map for that area of east Austin and over the last 3 months there’s been only a hand full of assaults.
Basic Trail Safety Tips:
- Familiarize yourself with the trail and plan your route
- Hike with a friend. In case of an emergency, you can help each other out.
- If going solo, let at least one friend or family member know your route, expected return time, and description of your clothing
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged
- Never use trails after dark
- Carry identification and include name, phone number, and medical information (allergies, medications, medical history) Consider listing an emergency contact number.
- Use discretion when acknowledging strangers
- Keep the volume down on your headphones or use just one earphone in order to hear and be alerted to approaching hazards
- Stay on marked trails
- Remain aware of your surroundings
- Do not approach homeless encampments or hostile people engaged in illegal activities
- Carry at least one light source even if you begin your adventure during daylight hours. In the event you become lost or disoriented and nightfall results, you can use the light to illuminate your route or for emergency signaling.
- Keep a whistle with your gear for emergency signaling
- “Drop a pin” or take a pictures with your cellphone of your entry point and trail markers as you pass them. Send them to a family member or friend as a “check-in”.
- If lost, use a compass or smartphone to pinpoint your location coordinates or be prepared to describe your location with basic orienteering techniques (last past roadway/intersection, maintaining knowledge of direction of travel, etc…)