Police increasing patrols after 2 sex assaults in different parts of Charlotte

Police increasing patrols after 2 sex assaults in different parts of Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating after two women were approached by strangers and sexually assaulted Wednesday morning.

Detectives called the attacks, which happened in two different areas of town, isolated incidents.

The first assault happened around 5 a.m. in the 6700 block of W.T. Harris Boulevard in east Charlotte. Officers said a 63-year-old woman was out for a walk when she was approached by a man wearing a mask.

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>>Channel 9's veteran crime reporter Mark Becker is with detectives gathering the latest in the investigations and will have an update, on Eyewitness News at 5.

The man told her he had a weapon and forced her into some woods, where he then tried to sexually assault her. Detectives said the woman fought back, though, and the man eventually ran off, stealing her phone and bag, which was later recovered nearby.

The attacker was described as black, about 20 years old. He was about 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, with a thin build. He was wearing a full mask over his face.

The second assault happened about 6:15 a.m. in the Foxboro neighborhood, near Arrowood Road and Nations Ford Road in south Charlotte.

Investigators told Channel 9 a 26-year-old woman standing at a bus stop was approached by a man with a gun who was driving a white van. The victim said the man forced her into the van at gunpoint and drove her to another location, where he raped her.

The attacker in the second case was described as a heavyset Hispanic man with black hair, about 35 years old, with a stocky, short build. The woman said there were no markings on the van.

Police have not made any arrests in either case, but have increased patrols in the area to find leads that could point to the attackers.

Channel 9 spoke with a woman who walks by the bus stop on her way to work.

“I have Mace at the moment but the way this city is going, I might need to get a gun permit,” the woman said.

Channel 9 spoke with another woman about the sexual assaults. She shared the same fears.

“I’m nervous that it’s happening anywhere in the city,” she said. “For it to be near where I am is especially -- it’s awful. It’s bad.”

Lisa Pike said she walks her dog in the Hickory Grove neighborhood every morning and was shocked to learn about the first attack, which happened nearby.

"This is very concerning to hear and hopefully not a trend," said Pike.

CMPD said stranger rapes account for 10 percent of sexual assaults and that it was very unusual that two happened back-to-back around the same time.

Anyone who may have information about these crimes should call police immediately.