Durham police investigating assaults along American Tobacco Trail

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJune 12, 2014 

  • Safety tips

    The Durham Police Department offers the following crime prevention tips:

    • Call 911 to report any suspicious activity.

    • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

    • Walk in well-lit areas that are not isolated.

    • If you are being followed, get away fast, change directions and head toward a safe location.

    • Carry a personal alarm with you to deter potential attackers.

— Investigators think a group of teens may be responsible for several assaults reported along the American Tobacco Trail in South Durham in recent days.

The attacks began Thursday, with the latest on Monday afternoon, said Kammie Michael, a police spokeswoman.

Each of the assaults took place along the trail near Fayetteville and Pilot streets, Michael said.

None of the victims reported serious injuries.

About 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a victim told police that he was riding his bike south on the trail when a teen punched him in the face. The impact from the punch knocked the man off his bicycle, police said.

The biker said the teen did not say anything, nor did he attempt to rob him.

Police described the suspect as a black male between 14 to 16 years old, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build and close-cut hair. He was last seen wearing a black shirt and dark pants with a sweatshirt around his shoulders. He was walking with three other teens who did not participate in the assault, Michael said.

One Friday, a man and woman told police they were walking on the trail about 1 p.m. when four teens approached them. One of the teens asked to use the male victim’s cellphone and was told no.

The teens responded by punching the man in the face several times, taking his cellphone and iPod and running away, Michael reported. The man was treated at the hospital and released.

The victims described the teen who asked to use the phone as a black male, 15 to 17 years old and standing 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

On Monday afternoon, a woman told police she was walking along the trail when she saw five teens blocking a bicyclist’s route. They attempted to assault the bicyclist, but he was able to get away. Officers had not made contact with the bicyclist by late Monday afternoon, Michael reported.

Attacks and robbery have not been uncommon on the American Tobacco Trail in recent months.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incidents to call 919-560-4415 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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