North Park residents band together to stop attacks - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

North Park residents band together to stop attacks

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NORTH PARK (CBS 8) - Following a string of attacks against women in North Park -- a victim shares her story at a town hall meeting organized to address the community's concerns. 

At least five women have been attacked in North Park in the past several months and now community members are fighting back.

Residents came together Saturday to look for ways to keep their community safe.

While everyone at Saturday's town hall meeting had a question, concern or suggestion on how to combat crime -- a select few had a story to share including Kendra Smith, who was attacked back in May while walking home alone at night.

“I felt something around my throat and I was up in the air, and all of sudden he punched me in the side of the face and then pushed me down to the ground,” she said.

It happened in an alley near Idaho and University. She took this route because it's better lit and says she was 100 feet away from her apartment when the man grabbed her.

"I was able to start breathing and screaming and I started yelling and he got up and started to run away," she said.

Kendra described her attacker as a tall, skinny man with dark complexion, wearing athletic gear.

Following that assault, at least five different women in North Park have been violently attacked under similar circumstances while walking home alone late at night or early in the morning.

Police released a sketch of a suspect who was seen with another man believed to be involved in at least two of those cases.

"I've seen therapists...I mean I'm never going to be the same when I'm walking by myself," Smith said.

And that's what's frustrating for residents here. They don't want to live in fear.

During Saturday’s meeting, they vowed to find a solution which will include building a social networking page to update the community, and reaching out to city leaders to request things like better lighting and more police presence.

More importantly, they plan to work together.

"We're aware of our crime and we're doing something about it. I think that’s the real key issue here," said Sam Ballard.

"We don't want people to feel afraid...we want them to feel empowered in their community," said Edwin Lohr.

Another concern brought up Saturday was response times. But police have increased patrols since the attacks began.

Also during this meeting, attendees voted on a slogan: "Keep North Park safe -- if you see something, say something."

No arrests have been made in any of the recent attacks.

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