Palo Alto police are seeking the public’s help to identify and catch a man connected to the broad daylight assault of a woman in California on Easter Sunday.
The incident occurred at an underpass on California Avenue in Palo Alto. City officials said in a press release that local police were informed by a passerby at around 2:49 p.m. on Sunday that a woman had just been sexually assaulted in the area.
Speaking to investigators, the victim, who is said to be in her 50s, said she was pushing her bike through the underpass when the alleged suspect passed her by while also walking with his bike.
The man reportedly attacked the victim from behind, knocking her to the ground before sexually assaulting her in broad daylight.
As she was screaming for help, authorities said the attacker took the woman’s phone and fled in an unknown direction. The victim’s phone was located in the 3000 block of Emerson Street a few minutes later after the police arrived at around 3:05 p.m.
A passerby who did not witness the assault saw the woman and called the police, who immediately arrived at the scene.
The victim reportedly suffered a laceration to the back of her head and a bruise on her neck.
Palo Alto Fire Department paramedics took the victim to a local hospital, where she received medical treatment and a forensic medical examination for the sexual assault.
Palo Alto Police Department spokesperson Lt. Kara Apple told ABC7 News that what happened on Easter Sunday was a very rare occurrence in the city.
Crime in the tunnel is very rare, and a daytime sexual assault is extremely rare, and it’s so brazen to be in this tunnel on a Sunday when we do generally have people that use it as a way to get back and forth from residential space to the business district.
The police department released a sketch of the alleged attacker on Monday.
The victim described the suspect as an Asian male between 30 and 40 years old with a stocky build and a height of 5 feet and 5 inches. She added that the attacker, who was clean-shaven, was wearing a dark bike helmet, dark sunglasses and a high-visibility yellow top at the time of the crime.
Those who may have information about the man are advised to contact the Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch line at (650) 329-2413.