Girl sexually assaulted on the way to school in Berkeley

The high-school aged girl says she was walking to school on Addison Street in Berkeley when she was grabbed from behind about 11 a.m. Thursday.

"She was approached, she felt someone grab her press what she believed to be a gun in her side and forced down a nearby driveway," said Berkeley police Sgt. Andrew Frankel. "At some point thereafter, she was sexually assaulted by the suspect."

The man covered her mouth -  and gave her a warning.

"He told her not to scream," Frankel said.

After attacking her, he left, and she contacted police.

A resident of a house on the block told me that officers scoured his side yard for evidence.

Berkeley police were a visible presence in the neighborhood, which is just a half-mile from the  department. The street sits near the busy intersection of University Avenue and Sacramento Street.

Police recommended that if possible, people walk in groups.

"Regardless of time of day, regardless of the neighborhood, it's always best to travel in numbers. You generally don't hear or see these happen when it's a larger group," Frankel said.

Police declined to provide the victim's age or what school she attends, saying only that was "high-school age." The principal of Berkeley High School referred to KTVU to a Berkeley Unified School District spokesman, who would not say if the victim was a student in the district.

People who live and work in the area said they were shocked by the daylight attack.

"It's a very peaceful, quiet safe environment. I'm very surprised," said Alex Saum as she pushed her sleeping child in a stroller.

Jennifer Mino, another resident, said, "Because of so much foot traffic and car traffic, it's really hard to believe because I live here and there's always people, either coming in or out of their house or driving and walking."

Jennifer Bevard, who works in Berkeley said, "It's hard to say on any given day who is going to be in the neighborhood. But that really concerns me to hear that she had that experience."