Attempted rape at Lake Hollingworth has community on edge

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A violent attack this week at a popular place for runners, walkers and bikers has a community on edge.

Lakeland Police are trying to find the man who threw a jogger to the ground at Lake Hollingsworth, and tried to rape her.

That attack isn’t the only thing police think the man did. There was a man spotted by Lake Hollingsworth Wednesday performing a lewd act on himself as females ran by. Police believe it’s the same man who tried to rape a woman by the lake the day before.

“We have police officers all over this lake, detectives actively working this place,” Lakeland Police Department’s Sgt. Gary Gross said.Police are trying to find the man described by the 22-year-old victim who came to the lake after work around Midnight Tuesday for a routine jog.

“The next thing she knows his hands are around her mouth, he’s dragging her off into the woods,” Sgt. Gary Gross said.

The suspect, wearing black pants with no shirt, is described as a black male in his mid-twenties with braids and a doo rag.

“He was trying to get her shorts off and she starts talking to him, she starts trying to make things personal to get his mind off what he was doing,” Sgt. Gross said. “They continued to talk and it’s working- it probably saved her life.”

The victim coaxed him back to the path, then made a run for it-fleeing from the attacker.

The incident is rattling those who visit.

“Oh yeah, I’m gonna be more aware,” jogger Sheree Rodriguez said.

And it’s putting police in a ’round the clock effort to calm their nerves.

“We’re doing everything we can to put this guy in jail,” Sgt. Gross said.

Police are getting strong leads after releasing a composite of the suspect. Until they track him down, they’re urging visitors of Lake Hollingsworth to be on guard, stick with a buddy and try to go in the daylight when you’re easily seen or heard.

Copyright WFLA 2015.  All rights reserved.

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