Flagstaff police investigate third sexual assault in downtown area

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Flagstaff police are investigating a sexual assault that occurred early Thursday morning and are working to determine if it is related to two previous attacks on women walking alone in the downtown area.

The victim told police that she was in the downtown area drinking at a local business. Sometime after 1:30 a.m., she began walking alone northbound on Humphreys Street. She said a man followed her on foot.

At one point, the victim began to run and the suspect ran after her, catching her in the area of Cherry Avenue and Kendrick Street where she was physically and sexually assaulted.

The victim described the suspect as a heavyset Native American male, approximately 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and wearing a gray shirt. She said the suspect's hair was neatly combed back and tied in a ponytail. Detectives are working to obtain a composite of the suspect.

Sgt. James Jackson said detectives will be comparing this attack to two other sexual assaults to establish whether or not they were committed by the same suspect. Flagstaff police said DNA evidence indicates that the man who sexually assaulted a woman on July 21 also attacked a woman on Jan. 18.

The suspect from those sexual assaults is described as a Native American male in his early to mid-20s, approximately 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with medium-length black hair. He appears to have been wearing a gray or light-colored hooded sweatshirt at the time of the second attack.

A surveillance video from a local business shows the second victim and the suspect walking together (see video above).

In all three incidents, the female victims were in the process of leaving the downtown bar district in the early morning hours when they were contacted by the suspect.

The Flagstaff Police Department in cooperation with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and Northern Arizona University Police Department have established a task force to specifically investigate these cases and work to identify the suspect.

Police have notified all the downtown bar businesses and provided them with a composite sketch of the suspect from the first two assaults. Jackson said additional officers are patrolling the downtown area late at night and in the early morning hours, trying to identify any leads, enhance security and obtain further evidence.

Anyone with information about these cases or the suspect's identity is asked to contact the Flagstaff Police Department at 928-774-1414 or Silent Witness at 928-774-6111.