Another Runner Attacked on American Tobacco Trail

Keith Upchurch, Herald Sun, August 22, 2012

Another jogger has been attacked by a group of youths on the American Tobacco Trail—at least the sixth assault on the trail this year, and the 24th offense reported to police since the start of 2011.

The most recent assault happened shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The male jogger told police he saw four or five youths he described as black and between 12 and 16 years old loitering on the trail between Otis and Fayetteville streets. The runner ran by them and continued his run along the trail.

As he was returning, the youths assaulted him, but he was able to run home and call police.

Investigators declined to provide details Wednesday about the nature of the attack.

At a news briefing Wednesday in front of Durham Police Headquarters, Police Chief Jose Lopez said the department is considering new steps—including video cameras and citizen volunteers—to patrol the trail. {snip}

In the meantime, Lopez said, his department continues increased patrols on the trail.

He said that since Aug. 1, police have made 79 “directed patrols” on the trail.

“That means there were 79 times where officers have radioed to dispatch [911 communicators] to let them know they’ll be spending time and attention to [the trail],” Lopez said.

He said that included officers on foot and on bicycles.

Lopez said six “simple assaults”—without life-threatening injury—were reported to police this year. “The simple assaults don’t appear to be motivated by robbery,” Lopez said. “It appears to be motivated more by mischievousness and the locations where they find individuals who are clearly running by themselves.”

“So if you look at that, versus the thousands of people who run the trail on a daily basis, it’s pretty safe,” he said.

{snip}

The last reported attack before Tuesday’s happened July 31 when a jogger ran past six teens at the trail and was hit in the head by one on his way back. Police arrested a 13-year-old boy.

Nine more incidents on the trail were reported to Durham police this year—four assaults, four robberies and one indecent exposure.

{snip}

Three other incidents happened in May, and the suspects were described as teens. The two teen victims said they were walking on the trail when some youths kicked and punched them.

About a week later, a jogger was attacked after another runner barely escaped assault when he outran a group of teens with sticks.

{snip}

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