Woman fights off attempted sexual assault in Evanston park

A frightening attack in an Evanston park has police asking for the public's help in catching a man who tried to sexually assault a 38-year-old woman as she was pushing her 2-year-old son in a stroller.

It happened around 8:40 PM Wednesday night in Brummell Park. Rashad Morris had just dropped off a friend who lives near the park and was sitting in his car when he saw the woman walk by, and then he saw a man who appeared to be following her.

Moments later, he heard a woman scream once, and then a second time.

“The second scream I just jumped out of the car to go see what was going on; as I got around the corner he was on top of her so my first instinct was to just let him know that I'm there so I screamed at him,” Morris said.

The attacker jumped up and ran off. Morris tried to catch him, but stopped after a short chase.

Morris said that before the attack, he saw the man cut in front of his car and it appeared he was following the woman. Morris said immediately got a bad feeling about the situation.

“The look on his face was just telling me like he already had this planned, we had this whole thing, fill it out what he was going to do like, you could tell he followed her from who knows where,” Morris said.

Morris is credited with preventing her from being sexually assaulted. Police say the woman was shaken up, but not physically hurt.

“There was a struggle, she was able to struggle with the offender and scream, possibly scratching the offender,” said Jay Parrott, Deputy Chief, Evanston Police.

Police are hoping DNA from under the woman's fingernails might help them identify the attacker.

Meanwhile, people who live around the park joined together Thursday where the attack happened in a show of support.

“We're horrified by the event that happened last night, and wanted to show up to show solidarity for the victim and also to show criminals that we don't tolerate that behavior here,” said Michele Hays, Chairwoman of Brummel Park Neighbors.

Police are canvassing the neighborhood to see if they can locate any security video that might help identify the attacker.

Police said the offender is described as a light skinned Black or Hispanic man, about 5’6” with a thin build, short hair and a thin beard. He was last seen wearing grey pants and a red tank top.

“The Evanston Police Department would like to acknowledge the courage and quick-thinking of the victim in this incident, as well as express our gratitude to the witnesses for their assistance with helping the victim and their continued cooperation with detectives,” police said.

Anyone with information should call police at (847) 866-5000 or text 274637 and enter “EPDTIP” in the message, along with the information.