by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers and park rangers are stepping up patrols at McMullen Creek Greenway after a 16-year-old girl was attacked by a man at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
The teen told police she was walking on a trail when the man who was armed with a knife grabbed her from behind and attempted to drag her into the woods. The girl managed to escape unharmed.
On Friday, police patrolled the greenway by bicycle. Officers were checking not only trails and access points, but the woods as well.
“This could have happened to anyone’s daughter,” said CMPD officer Mark Graham. “We’re out here to keep everybody safe.”
Channel 9 was there Friday evening as the Charlotte Catholic’s cross country team wrapped up another practice at the greenway. Coaches, players and parents have been on high alert since the attack.
“I was concerned for our team because we run out here each day,” said coach Maraya Slatter.
Slatter said she warned her runners about what happened Thursday and reviewed safety with them before work.
“I wanted to make sure they’re aware that that can happen and that’s why they should be with people,” Slatter said.
The buddy system is the No. 1 piece of advice from police when asked how runners can keep themselves safe here.
“Also, try to run without ear buds,” said Graham. “Be extremely aware of your surroundings.”
Park rangers will also be stepping up its patrols at McMullen Creek Greenway this weekend.
Channel 9 talked with the county’s park superintendent who said 28 rangers patrol the more 40-plus miles of Greenway in Mecklenburg County on a daily basis.
The department also plans to distribute safety brochures in the next few weeks during an opening event.
Greenway goers said they welcome the added protection and told Channel 9 it gives them peace of mind.
“It’s just really scary,” said Jocelyn Williams, who lives near the Greenway. “I don’t understand why somebody would want to do that.”
Police released a description of the suspect. Investigators said the attacker was a black or Hispanic male who was approximately 25 years old, 6 feet tall, 190 pounds and wearing a light blue T-shirt and khaki cargo shorts.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call police.