Some residents in a Central Austin neighborhood are on edge as the Austin Police Department looks for a man accused of assaulting several women. APD is looking for anyone with information and other possible victims.
Neighbors FOX 7 spoke with said the man has been dubbed the "Hyde Park Spanker," on their neighborhood group on Next Door. The man apparently goes up to women who are jogging or walking, gropes them and runs away.
“It is pretty rare to have violent crime in the neighborhood,” Kathy Lawrence is the Co-VP of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and has lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade. “People walk constantly; they walk their children, their babies, their dogs, lots of bicyclists, so it's very pedestrian friendly.”
APD said they have received at least six reported cases of “Assault Contact in a Sexual Nature” in the Hyde Park neighborhood starting April 7th, with the most recent being May 4th. The assaults are happening primarily in the evening but one was reported in the morning. The women said they were jogging or walking their dogs, some were with friends, even some women said they were with children. Officer Destiny Winston is with the Austin Police Department. “These types of criminals or these predators will use all kinds of different techniques or tactics and they are always on the lookout for victims. With these types of things they can escalate of course, anyone touching you or making you feel uncomfortable that needs to be reported to 911,” she said.
The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s, thin with an athletic build wearing dark shirts, basketball shorts and black shoes.
Lawrence said it's a very active community with many people out at all times of the day and they won't tolerate this kind of behavior in their neighborhood. “We have a lot of people who are very passionate about living in the neighborhood, care a lot about the community and we're a very organized neighborhood, people know each other, people talk to each other, and so we are able to get people off the streets who are causing crime,” she said.
APD asked everyone in the Hyde Park neighborhood to be vigilant if outside and report anything or anyone suspicious. They are also asking if there are any other victims to contact them.