Police, City Council aim to make North Park safer

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – City crews have fixed 20 inoperative street lights in North Park, where several women have been attacked in recent months, council President Todd Gloria said Friday.

“I’m working closely with the San Diego Police Department, and other city departments, to ensure that we’re doing absolutely everything in our power to catch the suspects, to increase public safety, and to return peace of mind to the people of Mid-City,” Gloria said at a news conference. “I’ve attended several community meetings, focused on public safety in the wake of these attacks, and the people of North Park have made it very clear that they want additional lighting in the community.”

He said volunteers led by the North Park Main Street group and San Diego Gas & Electric took an inventory of street lights, with the help of a local geographic information systems company, and found 23 weren’t working. So far, 20 have been repaired and the remainder will be soon, according to Gloria.

Five of the six attacks have taken place in his district, which covers North Park, Hillcrest and downtown. In each of the assaults, a woman walking alone at night was violently attacked by an unknown suspect or suspects, according to San Diego police.

Gloria said existing street lights along Lincoln Avenue, from Texas Street to the 805 freeway, are being retrofitted with adjustable LED bulbs. The new lights provide far more light, he said. He said an additional light is being installed in that area.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has also agreed to keep lights on at tennis courts Idaho and Howard streets to brighten up the area.

Gloria also asked residents to check their exterior lights to make sure they were operating correctly.

The most recent of the attacks occurred one week ago in an alley off the 3900 block of Idaho Street. A woman was attacked from behind, punched in her face and lost consciousness, according to San Diego police Sgt. Shawn Takeuchi.

Several witnesses came to the injured woman’s aid after she was heard screaming, and the suspect ran off, Takeuchi said.

Police described the suspect in that incident as Hispanic, between 5 feet 6 and 6 feet, wearing a red shirt and dark pants.

On July 20, another woman was attacked from behind in the 2900 block of Lincoln Avenue. She was also punched in the face and was knocked unconscious, which left her with significant injuries, Takeuchi said.

A similar assault was reported a block away early on June 24, according to the sergeant.

Attempted sexual assaults on Meade Avenue near 33rd Street and on Lincoln Avenue near Oregon Street were reported on June 17 and June 21, respectively, according to police. Both victims managed to fight off their attackers.

The first incident in the series dates back to June 11, when a woman was knocked unconscious in the 3900 block of 33rd Street, Takeuchi said.

San Diego police Capt. Dave Nisleit said there was no new information regarding the suspect.

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