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Police and fire

The Journal Gazette

Runner sexually assaulted on Rivergreenway

Passing motorist intervenes

– As a woman jogged alone Saturday, a man wearing red, baggy shorts passed her going the other way. Soon after that, he turned around, accosted her from behind and started sexually assaulting her.

This happened shortly before 11 a.m. on the Rivergreenway path near the bridge that carries Lower Huntington Road over the St. Marys River in south Fort Wayne, said. Sgt. Mark Brooks, a city police spokesman.

Not long into the assault, a passing motorist realized what was transpiring and intervened. The attacker then ran north on the exercise path, Brooks said.

Dispatched to the scene at 10:54 a.m., officers canvassed the area with the help of a police dog but did not find the man.

Brooks could not say whether the woman was beaten during the attack, but the sergeant did not believe she had to be hospitalized.

Brooks said random sexual assaults like this are rare in Fort Wayne. He did not know of any other recent assaults of this sort on the Rivergreenway or in the city’s parks.

“We want the public to be aware and use caution,” he said. “Our parks are heavily patrolled, but there are isolated spots.”

The stretch of the Rivergreenway where this assault occurred is not a particularly secluded spot. It’s just west of a busy T-shaped intersection where Lower Huntington Road, Tillman Road and Fairfield Avenue meet. Brooks said parts of the path in that area are visible from the road.

Given the geography of the area, witness accounts and the direction the police dog led officers, investigators believe the attacker may have gone to one of the apartment complexes near Fairfield Avenue, north of the crime scene, Brooks said.

The attacker was described as an 18- to 23-year-old black man with a light complexion and an Afro about 3 inches long. He had a medium build and stood 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10. He was wearing a gray Ohio State sweatshirt and red, baggy shorts.

Brooks said the “excellent” description given to police is good enough to produce helpful leads, and because the attacker was on the Rivergreenway on a Saturday morning, a strong chance exists that someone saw him.

Detectives ask anyone with a tip concerning the assault to call the Fort Wayne Police Department at 427-1222.

“No amount of information is too little,” Brooks said.