DURHAM — Authorities say a man was assaulted Tuesday evening while running along the American Tobacco Trail, marking the fifth attack in that area since May.
The man told police he was struck from behind as he jogged past a group of teenagers on the trail near Enterprise Street and Fargo Street. The man was not injured, and police arrested a 13-year-old male suspect about two hours later.
Durham police have stepped up bicycle and foot patrols on the trail after three attacks were reported within a two-week period in May, followed by another in June.
“(The trail) is a very important feature of our community, and we want to make it safe,” Durham Mayor Bill Bell said. He said this most recent incident has sparked Durham police to increase their activity in the area even further, with both uniformed and plain-clothed officers.
The May attacks took place between Cana Street and Pilot Street in south Durham. In all three cases, people were approached by young men, and some were mugged.
On June 10, a female jogger reported that a man jumped from behind a bush and grabbed her. Leon Edwards, 48, was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery later that night.
Durham resident Eric Efthimiadis, who goes to the trail at least once a week, said he occasionally encounters groups of teenagers loitering, but he does not find them to be suspicious. Police have suggested that people visit the trail in groups, stay in well-lit areas and avoid strangers, among other precautions.