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Man with hammer threatens rape on Freedom Trail | News

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Man with hammer threatens rape on Freedom Trail

ATLANTA, Ga.-- Sandwiched between the roar of Freedom Parkway and the crop of Inman Park Lofts, the Freedom Park Trail enters an underpass.

Heather James-Wyirek says the trail is a regular route for her. "I never go three minutes without passing someone, so you feel safe," she said.

When asked about the underpass, she adds, "That's always the part of the run where I feel the most vulnerable, because you're underneath an overpass and no one can see you."

Sunday evening just before 6:00, a female runner encountered a man with what looked like a hammer at that underpass. According to police reports, he screamed, "I will rape and f@*k you!" The man was following about ten feet behind her.

The runner ran down a side street and went for help along Highland Ave. Allison Wilde, a manager at Virginia Highland restaurant Across the Street, helped her when she arrived at the shop next door.

She immediately posted the description to neighborhood message boards: Six feet tall, shaggy hair, slim build, wearing a white t-shirt and dark colored shorts. As some point before she got help, the man stopped following her.

That description was then circulated through newsletters, e-mail lists, and Facebook pages. The Old Fourth Ward NPU president urged joggers to "be aware of surroundings". And the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, even, sent the depiction to residents in an e-mail.

By Monday morning, most runners had heard of the encounter. Some planned extra precautions: "I meant to wear my MACE," one woman said. Most did not.

Every runner I stopped shared a story of seeing homeless men wandering the trail, but none felt threatened before now.

"Never have I heard of anything like that before," Across the Street server Apryle Ambrose said, "It's crazy. I mean, a hammer! That's crazy."