Woman reportedly sexually assaulted on east Charlotte greenway; CMPD searching for suspect

CHARLOTTE — A woman was taken to a hospital following an alleged sexual assault near the McAlpine Creek Greenway in east Charlotte Wednesday morning, police said.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the greenway around noon, where a large Charlotte-Mecklenburg police presence could be seen near Margaret Wallace Road and Independence Boulevard.

According to MEDIC, the assault victim has minor injuries and was taken to a hospital in Matthews. Channel 9 is working to learn the updated condition of the woman.

In a Wednesday afternoon news conference, police said a woman was walking around 11 a.m. when she said a man assaulted her and tried to take her clothes off in an attempt to rape her. The victim was able to fight off the suspect and call 911, authorities said.

Police said it appears to be a random attack.

“During the struggle, she started to fight back a little bit. She was able to get her cellphone, alert to help and notify 911 which officers responded,” said Cpt. Jim Wright.

Police initially had the entrance to the greenway blocked off, but it has since been reopened.

CMPD said they are searching for a man who is heavy set and around 5 feet, 6 inches tall. He is described as having braided hair and was wearing black clothes. Police said the suspect may also have injuries to his face or hands from where the victim fought back.

Anyone with information on where the suspect may be is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

CMPD said it will have extra patrols out in the area and on the greenway.

“We would like to put out, anyone walking at anytime -- be aware of your surroundings, know where you are going, let somebody else know where you are going, have a cell phone, if needed call 911 on any suspicious person,” said Wright.

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz spoke to a group of women walking on the greenway Wednesday morning after the assault happened. The incident has many people she talked to thinking twice about being on the greenway alone.

“I just try to stay alert. I always look behind me and not be on my phone because that is the number one thing that distracts us,” one woman said.

Channel 9′s Glenn Counts spoke with Makayla Newman with the NoDa Run Club Wednesday evening. Newman told Counts that she has been running since high school.

Newman said the incident at McAlpine Creek Greenway caught her attention. “It’s something that upsets me, it upsets most women,” Newman said.

She said the club has been thinking about safety a lot more lately after the abduction and murder of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher.

The club held a moment of silence for Fletcher and said Wednesday night’s run was dedicated to her.

“As a running community, we all realize the dangers of going out for runs. That danger is even more significant for women runners,” club organizer Zachery Colburn said.

Newman said she doesn’t want to give into fear and sometimes she does jog alone. She acknowledged that she has been put in some uncomfortable situations.

“I’ve been catcalled while running and while walking; and it doesn’t upset me that much, but it just kind of reminds me I’m not necessarily safe if this went poorly,” Newman said.

(WATCH BELOW: Assault in uptown Charlotte leads to arrest of 5 cyclists in biker group, CMPD says)