AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are searching for a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a jogger in downtown Austin, and are asking for the public’s help to find him. Police say the attack happened on the trail near East Avenue and Cummings Street on Friday, Sept. 15 at 5:46 a.m.
They say he is white or Hispanic, between 5-foot-10 and 6 feet tall and between 215-250 pounds. He has shaggy, short hair and was last seen wearing blue jeans without a shirt or shoes.
A group of runners says they saw the suspect run past them on the trail, but they didn’t know he was a suspect or what happened at the time.
In a post that’s spreading across social media, three runners who came across the victim describe what they saw.
“We were approaching the steel bathroom by Rainey Street and a guy sprinted by the other way, holding his pants up and holding a pair of shorts,” the runners write. “We got a decent look at him but didn’t think much of it until we got farther down the trail and came across a woman who’d been attacked. Two other runners were helping her and had the police on the way. He had taken her shorts.”
“They tried to be there for the person that was the victim,” said Iram Leon, president of the Austin Runners Club.
Leon says the three runners are members of the club and shared the post to increase awareness and make sure people stayed safe.
Runners were surprised to hear about the attack.
“Very scary, that’s very scary,” said runner Kim Vodicka. “I mostly try not to go when it’s dark, and I try to have my phone with me most of the time.”
But Leon says runners can do even more to be safe, like taking out their ear buds, wearing lights and running with a buddy.
“People don’t attack groups as a general rule — that’s a lot harder to do,” Leon said. “I think this is a very safe area to run most of the time, and there’s just smarter ways to do it.”
The runners who saw the suspect say they ran back on the trail to try to find the suspect after they realized what had happened, but he was gone.
Anyone with information is asked to call 512-974-5095 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.
Police say they have increased patrols near the trail, and are following up on all leads, including whether this incident is related to the attack of a woman running at the Austin High School track a few weeks ago. The woman says she had just finished a couple of laps on Aug. 22 when a man “bear hugged” her and tried putting a cloth over her mouth.