Reporting Pamela Jones
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CHICAGO (CBS) – There’s growing concern on the Chicago Lakefront Trail, over a man who, runners say, has been punching women along the path.
Several runners have complained about the man on roller blades, who frequents the trail between the Museum Campus and Navy Pier.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones spoke to one of the victims.
One of the latest attacks happened just south of DuSable Harbor.
The victim of that attack on Sept. 8 said the man elbowed her as they passed each other on the lakefront path, and the man just kept rolling.
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Jennifer DeSalvo said the man, who was about 6’3″ on skates in his 50s or 60s with gray hair, slammed into her on purpose with a blow to her breast, while she and a friend were participating in the inaugural Girl Scouts Cookie Classic 5K.
“[He] just stuck his arm out, and hit me … with his elbow into my chest, and the fist into my bicep,” Jennifer DeSalvo said. “At first, I was kind of shocked.”
DeSalvo said, at first she thought it might have been an accident.
“I shouted out to him, ‘Hey, thanks for punching me,’ because I didn’t know what else to say. And he yelled back, ‘Get off the path,’ which I thought was pretty odd, because there was a bunch of little girls around,” DeSalvo said.
DeSalvo said she felt “very violated.”
“I’m on this path, probably five days out of the week – running, walking, cycling,” DeSalvo said. “And to blatantly be hit, when I knew that there was plenty of room, was just very violating.”
Wendy Jaehn, executive director of the Chicago Area Runners Association, said her group posted about the incident online, and has received several responses from others who believe the same man on roller blades might have targeted them as well.
The attacks could go back as far as last summer.
“I’ve never heard of, you know, somebody maliciously seeming, with intent, to go after a group of runners, or a single runner. And then to find out this has happened multiple times over the last two summers,” she said. “We were just kind of shocked by it.”
The Runners Association said anyone who might encounter the rude roller blader should report the incident to police.
“First and foremost, make sure you do report it, even if someone just comes by and just elbows you out of the way. If they don’t know about it, then there’s nothing they can do about it,” she said.
Police said they’re looking into the incidents, but they need victims to file reports.
Victims are hoping, if he strikes again, someone takes a picture of the man, so police will know who they’re looking for.