Downtown assailant has women on their guard

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/01/13/16878576.html

One of the women brazenly attacked from behind by a man in broad daylight last month says she wants other women to be more aware of their surroundings.

“It’s very concerning that this person is still out there,” said the 58-year-old, who doesn’t want to be named.

“I wasn’t wearing headphones or talking on my cell.”

She was assaulted after getting off the O-Train, on her way home from shopping around 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 on Albert St. near City Centre.

“He hit me on the head and then he ran in the other direction,” she said.

“I don’t know what I was hit with.”

She yelled loudly.

No one flinched.

“I looked around and thought, ‘where is everybody?’”

She put her hand, covered by a leather glove, on her head.

“There was all this blood … I wondered, ‘am I going to make it home?’”

She did.

Her partner looked at the huge lump on her head and took her to the hospital.

After getting three stitches, she returned home and called police.

There have been at least three assaults in Centretown in the past month.

The first two happened on Dec. 11 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. — not between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. as police originally said.

The third took place Jan. 4.

Ottawa Police are putting more cops in the downtown core, said Sgt. Dave Veinotte.

Police said the man didn’t sexually assault any of the women.

He didn’t try to steal anything either — he didn’t even say a word.

Sgt. Veinotte said anyone who thinks they’re being followed should find a safe haven.

Ottawa Police released a composite sketch of the suspect Wednesday.

“I’m assuming it was a random attack but you can never be sure.”

That’s why women are signing up for self-defence.

At K2 Martial Arts near Parkdale and Wellington in Hintonburg, evening classes are packed with women wanting to protect themselves, said program director Arthur Yrenaya.

The most effective self-defence technique varies, depending on the situation.

When attacked from behind, “the closest weapon you have available to you would be your elbows,” he said.

“The elbows are rigid and sharp.”

Yrenaya also recommends putting an object between yourself and an attacker.

“If he has a knife, for example, you definitely want to take out the purse and try to put it in front of you, if you have no opportunity to run away,” said Yrenaya.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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