Police search for sex assault suspect who targeted woman walking alone in Tumwater

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

TUMWATER, Wash. – Police in Thurston County are on the hunt for a man they say viciously sexually assaulted a woman who was minding her own business walking down the street.

It happened around 5:30 p.m. Monday night along Kimmie Street SW in Tumwater.

After hearing about the attack, some in the area told Q13 News there are tools everyone can learn to protect themselves in similar situations.

Police say the victim, a 41-year-old woman from Roy, was walking down the street when the suspect pulled her into the woods and assaulted her.

It all happened on a busy road right next to several subdivisions -- and now neighbors are on edge.

“Scary,” said neighbor Ann Coots. “It seems like you know you can’t be friendly anymore.”

For Coots and several of her Mulford Estates neighbors, Monday night’s assault hit way too close to home.

“I’m feeling I’m just not going to do some of the things I’ve done,”  Coots said. “About going out and not worrying about anything, but now I’ll keep my eyes open.”

Police say their suspect is a white male in his early 30’s, up to 5’10” tall with red hair and some facial hair.

The victim told police he was wearing a blue spandex athletic shirt tucked into his pants and wore a brown leather belt. He was spotted leaving the scene in a dark colored newer sedan. Police say their suspect is still on the loose, and neighbors worry he could strike again.

“Sadness,” said Michelle Loney who works near Olympia, “Sadness that that had to happen.”

Loney runs Warrior Girl Training and has practiced in the martial arts for more than a decade.

“As a woman, as a parent, learning self-defense is a life skill just like anything else,” she said.

Loney says Monday’s attack is a reminder for women everywhere that being aware of your surroundings is the first line of defense.

“Protecting our bodies and our minds is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves,” she said.

Loney says not only does Warrior Girls teach women situational awareness, but also defensive tactics she says can help in situations where violence is possible.

“I want them to be able to flip that switch and go from that great, loving, kind person to somebody that unfortunately might be in a situation where they need to protect their lives and they need to come home to their families,” she said.

Investigators said they are looking to speak with two bicyclists who rode by the scene around the time of the crime and may have information about the incident.

Anyone with information in the case is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.