Austin Police charge man in Hike and Bike sexual assault case

- UPDATE: Austin Police have identified and arrested a suspect in the sexual assault case that occurred on Friday. 22-year-old Richard McEachern is currently in custody at the Travis County Jail and faces a charge of sexual assault, police say. His bond has been set at $200,000. McEachern has a prior criminal record in Travis County police said. 

The Austin running community is urging hike and bike trail users to take caution as two assaults remain unsolved. The most recent attack happened on Friday.

"You're horrified, but you want to pass it on to minimize the chances of it happening again,” said Iram Leon.

Iram Leon, president of the Austin Runners Club, is encouraging his members to take steps to protect themselves as they set out on the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake.

"If you are going to run by yourself, to run with light if you're running in the dark, to run without music so that you're aware. And if you see something that just doesn't feel right turn around. You either find a different route or cut your run short, even if you have to cancel your run for that day. Ultimately running is supposed to be good for you so you want to be safe,” said Leon.

His advice comes after several people in his club happened upon a sex assault Friday morning. According to police, a woman was jogging along the trail by East Avenue and Cummings Street prior to being assaulted. A jogger heard her scream and intervened stopping the assault. Leon's friends ran by just as the suspect was getting away.

The suspect is described as white or Hispanic, 5'10" to 6'0" in height, 215-250 pounds with shaggy short hair. Those who saw him described him as having rolls and looking out of shape.

It was Leon's group that first circulated the news.

Austin police verified it Monday, adding they are working to determine whether an assault on a woman in August at the Austin High School track is related. Officers have yet to do interviews.

Runners expressed their desire for some type of alert system.

Public safety commission member Preston Tyree thinks it's a good idea.

"That is so simple to do. As soon as something like that happens. It should go out on social media. It should go out on the police app that gives alerts. I get alerts all the time about traffic and stuff. I might as well get one on this,” said Tyree.

It's an issue he said he will add to the agenda for an upcoming meeting.

"How do we get that out to the populous? How do we get that out to the people? That's a function of public safety I think. Make sure people understand the risk they're taking,” said Tyree.

For now, Austin runners are circulating the information anyway they can.

"Hopefully this ends soon and we get back to where this is not a prevalent issue, but we hope people will increase their safety habits and realize this is a great place to run."

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