PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - Palo Alto Police are searching for a man who they say grabbed a teenage girl, pointed a gun to her head and then sexually assaulted her. It happened on a trail near the intersection of Arastradero at Deer Creek Road.
Police said the victim is physically okay but emotionally shaken up. Police said the girl was jogging at the time.
Skyfox was overhead as an intense manhunt was underway around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in the lower foothills area of Palo Alto. Police said a suspect was armed with a handgun and attacked a young girl as she was jogging.
“She had been jogging along a path right next to the roadway when she was pulled off that path by an unknown man whom she did not know who then stuck a gun to her head and then sexually assaulted her in a greenbelt off the pathway,” said Capt. Zach Perron of Palo Alto Police.
The victim flagged down someone passing by who then called police. A CHP helicopter searched from the air and on the ground heavily armed officers set up a perimeter. K9 units also helped search. Police said by the time they all got there, the suspect ran away.
“Stranger sexual assaults with an unknown suspect and an unknown victim are very rare in any city,” said Capt. Perron. “They are particularly rare in Palo Alto.”
The path is not too far from Tesla’s headquarters. Police said, it's frequently used by pedestrians, joggers and cyclists.
“I’m pretty shocked and very saddened that this happened,” said Andrew Nguyen of Palo Alto.
Nguyen is studying at nearby Stanford University. He considers the trail scenic and safe. He calls the news unexpected and upsetting.
“It’s something you hear about often when walking around the neighborhoods of Palo Alto and Stanford and this area,” said Nguyen. “People generally assume it to be pretty safe.”
The suspect is described as a man in his 30's, 5’10” possibly of Filipino descent. He was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt with a bear logo. Police are asking if anyone saw anything suspicious to call their 24-hour dispatch center at (650) 329-2413.
Police said the victim was treated at the hospital. They're working with her to create a sketch of the suspect and they’re also looking for surveillance video from a nearby business park.