A woman was walking near the 1100 block of the I-35 frontage road in the early morning hours on Sunday, just blocks from the busy strips of East Sixth and East 11th Streets, when she was approached by a man in a large, white SUV, similar to a Suburban.
Around 3:30 am Sunday, a Caucasian male in his mid-30s allegedly approached the woman, asking her if she wanted a ride home. When the woman declined his offer, the suspect reportedly forced her into the vehicle where he sexually assaulted her while two other men looked on. The suspect then dropped the victim off near the East Sixth Street and I-35 intersection. According to KXAN, the suspect is listed as having brown hair, brown eyes and an athletic build.
News of the assault comes weeks after a video of a downtown fight — one that, like this attack, took place just a few blocks from APD headquarters — prompted the Austin Police Department to launch a new initiative called "Operation Safe Passage."
As a part of this new initiative, APD has increased its downtown presence with additional officers and patrol cars, especially during early morning hours when bars are closing. Such a brazen — and seemingly random — attack is not only a reminder to residents who know Austin to be one of the safest cities in the country, but a slap in the face to a police department plagued by bad press lately.
Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the suspect. If you were around the area on Sunday morning and saw anything suspicious, please call the Sex Crimes tip line at 512-974-5095 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.