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Police Searching For Man Who Was Pepper-Sprayed After Allegedly Assaulting Jogger

DRAPER, Utah – Police are searching for a man they said assaulted a woman before he was pepper-sprayed on a popular trail Thursday night.

“People just need to take precautions anywhere they go,” said Draper resident Hannah Hausman, who was riding her bike on the same trail on Friday. “It’s surprising for here but at the same time it’s not surprising because I think it can happen anywhere.”

A sobering reminder of that reality played out on the Porter Rockwell trail, according to Draper City Police.

“Obviously she was extremely distraught,” said Sergeant Scott Adams. “When our officers arrived on scene she was pretty upset and pretty shaken up.”

Adams said a 26-year-old woman was running along the trail at around 8:40 p.m. when a large man in dark clothing grabbed her from behind and then tried to pull off her clothes.

“I take it personally as the mayor,” said Draper City Mayor Troy Walker. “It scares me. It tugs at your heartstrings. It alarms you.”

Like others in the city, Walker is very familiar with the trail, but not at all familiar with this kind of alleged aggravated sexual assault that happened on the trail.

“This is not something happens with any kind of regularity,” he said. “In fact, I haven’t heard of it happening on one of our trails.”

Investigators said the woman fought back and defended herself with pepper spray, prompting the suspect to take off.

“What an amazing warrior to be able to fight for her own safety,” Walker said. “I’m just grateful that she had the wherewithal, the mental capacity, the physical ability and she had the pepper spray to make the move.”

Police moved in next with K-9 units and Adams said they “combed the area pretty aggressively to locate the suspect.” However, no suspect was found.

“This person that did this is a criminal,” Walker said. “They’re a predator…They’re evil and we got to do something about it. We’ve got to catch him. I mean, that’s what we’ve got to do. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to to make it better and safe.”

That included encouraging people on the path to be aware of their surroundings, report suspicious behavior and, like the runner in this case, carry a tool – like pepper spray or a whistle – that will either draw the attention of others or help stop an attack.

“Yeah, definitely take your pepper spray anywhere you go,” Hausman said. “I just got out of the habit of it but I should probably fish it out and keep it with me because you just never know.”

“We’re in the era where if you see something you need to say something,” Walker said. “If you’re out there and you see something that doesn’t seem right, doesn’t feel right, you just need to call.”