At 2:00 am Thursday morning, a Syracuse University female student reports she was attacked, just off campus in Thornden Park. The woman tells police she was forcibly touched by a male while walking through the park.
The student reported that the suspect approached her from behind and was polite as he spoke to her. The suspect then grabbed the victim and pulled her to the ground. The suspect then started to fondle the student and she struck him with her elbow and was able to get free and run to Ostrom Avenue. The suspect took off in the opposite direction from Ostrom Ave.
Regulars at the park say they are used to hearing stories like this, and have learned that while the park might be nice during the day, they avoid the grounds when the sun goes down.
"At night you should kind of avoid the areas you might think will be a little unsafe, or dark, there's not a whole lot of lighting especially in this area," Anne Masucci, a regular at Thornden Park, says.
In addition to the lighting, Masucci says the wooded areas of the park make it easier for attackers to hide and escape from, putting victims, at a disadvantage. Because the park is close to Syracuse University, students, especially upperclassman, say they know not to go in the park, or even off campus after dark.
"There's a reason they say don't go to Thornden Park at night," Matthew Kogut, a senior, says. "It's just not a safe place."
The Syracuse University Department of Public Safety issued an alert and is asking for tips on the case. In response to the incident, SU Public Safety, along with Syracuse Police, are increasing patrols and making specific checks in the Thornden Park area beginning Thursday night.
As a matter of protocol, Public Safety Chief Tony Callisto says they will increase staffing as normal with the onset of Fall semester.
The suspect is a black man, who was wearing blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up.