Local News

Durham police issue safety tips after sexual assault on Ellerbe Creek Trail

Posted December 4, 2017 11:34 a.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2017 10:27 p.m. EST

— Durham police are looking for a man who they say sexually assaulted a women Sunday afternoon on the Ellerbe Creek Trail near Northgate Park.

A woman told officers that she was running on the trail around 3 p.m. when a man rode by her on a bicycle. The man turned around, rode up to her and grabbed her buttocks.

The woman screamed, and he rode away.

LaTasha McMillan runs at the Ellerbe Creek Trail about four times a week. Now that the sun is setting earlier, she's up against the clock.

"When I came home today, I was trying to rush to get undressed from my work clothes and try to get it before the sunlight left," she said.

McMillan said she feels safe on her runs, because the area is usually well populated and the trail is close to her house. Still, Durham police fell that with shorter days and longer nights, it's a good time to remind people of the dangers.

"The suspects look for people that look like they're not paying some sort of attention," said Corp. Andre Richards with the Durham Police Department's Special Victim's Unit.

It only takes a few seconds for a suspect to be within grabbing distance, but authorities said there are ways to stay safe, including staying alert.

The Durham Police Department reminds the public of the following personal safety tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Call 911 to report any suspicious activities
  • Do not walk alone
  • Try to remain in well-lit areas
  • Trust your instincts
  • Do not walk/run with earbuds or headphones
  • Bring a cell phone

Anyone with information about the assault should call police at 919-560-4440.