Posted at: 06/12/2013 4:20 PM
Updated at: 06/13/2013 7:46 AM
By: Leslie Dyste
Police in Anoka County are searching for a suspect who attacked and robbed a teenage girl in a popular park in broad daylight.
It happened around 5 p.m. Tuesday at Bunker Hills Regional Park in Andover.
"It's just really peaceful, safe ... everyone's really nice all the time," said Lisa Burke, who regularly jogs through the park.
Tuesday afternoon now stands as a glaring exception to the typical tranquility of the park.
"This was a really quick assault and it was kind of a sneak attack from behind," said Cdr. Paul Sommer, with the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said the 17-year-old girl had spent the afternoon in the park with friends, but was walking home alone on a paved path.
"She was isolated from others. She was in a densely wooded area along a path, and was distracted by using her cell phone, and the attacker took advantage of all of those circumstances," Sommer said.
Police said the male suspect grabbed the girl, dragged her into the woods, assaulted and robber her, and then ran away.
"It's a pretty rare attack for us. It's a pretty blatant individual though, who's willing to perpetrate something like this," Sommer said.
Police said the attack was not sexual in nature, and the teen is OK. She was treated and released from the hospital.
Still, park regulars are shocked.
"I think it's horrible. It's disturbing, and I have a 16-year-old daughter myself, and they come over here. My son longboards over here all the time. It's really upsetting," Burke said.
But Burke said she doesn't plan to stop running through the park anytime soon.
Police describe the suspect as a white male in his early 30s, about 6 feet tall, with a slender build, dark hair, and a scruffy, unshaven look.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Anoka County Sheriff's Office at 763-427-1212.