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‘Little piece of heaven’ in Decatur neighborhood rocked by violent assault

DeKalb County Police confirmed Friday that a woman using the East Decatur Greenway Sunday morning was the target of a random, violent assault.

DECATUR, Ga. — One woman calls it their “little piece of heaven.” It’s the beloved East Decatur Greenway, off of Columbia Drive.

But Sunday, August 15, it became the site of a violent assault. Someone attacked a woman there and got away. DeKalb County Police are asking for the public’s help identifying and locating the man.

The woman was at the greenway by herself at about 7:30 a.m. near a footbridge across a creek, an area often crowded with joggers and dog walkers.

A man came out of nowhere and approached her, asking for some sort of help. Police said the man suddenly struck her repeatedly. She screamed and was able to get away.

The entire neighborhood is frightened for her and for themselves.

“It really puts the situation into perspective that I was also walking my dog nearby when it happened,” said one neighborhood resident Friday evening.

She said she wishes she could have helped and wishes she could have heard or seen something. 

The attacker got away on a black bicycle and was wearing a lime green fanny pack and a pink face mask. Police have not yet released a detailed description of him, except to say he has a muscular build, and was wearing black shorts but no shirt.

According to a friend of the woman, she also told police that she thinks he is in his 40s and is about 5’10”.

RELATED: Woman struck 'several times' in attack while on trail in Decatur

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said Friday he is working with DeKalb County police for additional patrols in several neighborhoods in his district  and is now asking police to include the areas around the greenway, as well.

Members of the Board of the East Decatur Greenway are coming up with an enhanced safety plan.

And volunteers have already started cutting back vegetation that obscures the view of the park from the street.

“It can maybe help people feel a little bit safer having greater visibility,” said another woman who lives near the greenway.

She said from now on, if someone asks her for help, she will immediately try to help that person by calling 911--and getting away, right away.

For now, she said the entire neighborhood is rallying around the survivor, supporting her, and rallying around their park.

“This is our little piece of heaven here, and we all love it. The whole neighborhood loves it. And I want us to just continue to love it and take care of it and look out for each other, and just to be cautious.”

The East Atlanta Greenway opened in 2018, the result of area residents reclaiming the site of an abandoned gas station, including removing the underground tanks. Then they started to develop the property, along with a few adjacent parcels, into a small nature preserve and greenway for the public.

The Friends School of Atlanta, serving students Pre-K through 8th grade, sits on a hill overlooking the greenway.

“It’s absolutely disheartening,” said the woman who was walking her dog there Sunday morning. "This is a beautiful greenway, and it's a cut-through for folks that are exercising, it's a cut-through for kids going to school, and you just, you don’t want to think about someone being put in a dangerous situation walking down the greenway.”

DeKalb County Police are urging people to contact detectives or Crime Stoppers Atlanta if they have any ideas or tips about who attacked the woman on the East Decatur Greenway Sunday morning.

Call DeKalb County Police at  770-724-7710 or Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (577-8477).

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