Two Women Attacked on Uvas Levee

A police rendering of the suspect.

Both women able to fight off and escape from man who attempted
to force them into bushes
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – An attacker with a “lazy” eye jumped two women exercising on the Uvas Creek levee about 10am Sunday and tried to force them into the bushes, but both were able to fight him off and run to safety.

The second attack occurred while police were searching for the suspect just 10 to 15 minutes after the first.

Both women told police they were on the northern half of the levee when a Hispanic male, 18 to 25 years old, between 5-foot-8 and 6 feet, weighing 175 to 190 pounds, grabbed them and tried to force them into the bushes bordering the levee, Sgt. Kurt Svardal said. They both managed to escape the suspect – who was unarmed – uninjured to seek assistance.

Police said the suspect has black hair and brown eyes, and wore a black or blue hooded sweatshirt and black sweat pants at the time of the attacks, according to descriptions provided by the victims. The women also described him as having a lazy left eye. He did not appear to be homeless.

The first attack occurred about 9:46am, where Wren Avenue dead-ends at Uvas Park Drive and there is room for a few vehicles to park near a staircase leading to the paved surface of the levee. A woman was jogging northbound and passed the suspect, who stood on the edge of the path. A short while later, she turned around and jogged southbound when she saw the suspect again when he stepped in front of her.

“He grabs her and tries to take her into the bushes,” Sgt. Svardal said. “She screams, kicks, and is able to fend off this attack. And then she takes off.”

The woman flagged down a resident for help, and called the police from home, Svardal said. All officers on duty responded and began searching the area for the suspect, based on the woman’s description.

About 10 to 15 minutes later, a second woman approached one of the officers and reported the she had just been attacked on the levee, about a half-mile north.

She was riding a bicycle near the north end of the levee, at Laurel Drive, and the suspect approached her as she crossed Laurel. The man grabbed her, but she fought him off and rode to alert police.

The man did not have a weapon and did not say anything to the women, Svardal said. It was not known whether he was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

Police will be patrolling the area on bike, Svardal said. The department was creating a flier Monday to distribute to levee users and neighbors in the area.

He encouraged women to travel through the area in groups, and urged people to report any suspicious activity to the police department.

The most popular public recreation area in the city, the levee near Christmas Hill Park is frequented by walkers, joggers, bikers and roller skaters from sunrise to dusk. Svardal did not know of any physical attacks that had taken place on the two-mile route, but several indecent exposure incidents have occurred there.

Despite the unusual nature of the attempted abductions, Svardal said it was not surprising that both women were able to stave off the man, based on the circumstances.

“You’ve got people up there that are getting exercise, so they may have a little more confidence, which is good,” he said. “And (fighting back) is a choice.”

Police are investigating the incidents as attempted sexual assaults/kidnappings. Anyone with information about the case may contact the Gilroy Police Department at 846-0350.

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