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Visitor shocked to learn about Richmond National Battlefield Park attack: 'So saddening to hear'

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 29, 2024

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Ty Barker said news that a Richmond National Battlefield Park visitor was assaulted over the weekend came as a shock.

Barker, who lives and works near the park located in Chesterfield County, is a frequent visitor.

"That is crazy. I have never seen anybody in this park that didn't look like a friendly face. The fact that it happened in my very own park is just so, so saddening to hear," Barker said.

Around 9:15 Sunday morning, Chesterfield Police received a call from a woman who said she'd been attacked by a stranger in the park while she walked her dogs.

She told police she'd seen the man when she arrived, and that while she was on the walk, the man approached her and spoke.

She told police she was unable to hear him because she was wearing headphones at the time.

According to police, the man became upset and yelled at the victim, then physically attacked her, throwing her on the ground.

Police said a struggle ensured, and after a verbal exchange during the altercation, police said the man abruptly left and took the woman's phone.

The woman said she saw him leave in an older, white sedan.

Police described the man as a 6'2-6'3 Black man with an athletic build wearing a white T-shirt and either gray or black jeans.

He is said to have a short Afro, with "noticeably white and straight teeth."

"We don't know what precipitated the attack besides perhaps a perceived rudeness by her, from his perspective," Sergeant Winfred Lewis, in Chesterfield Police's Special Victim's Unit, said during a press conference Monday. "It is unusual that an interaction of this type would escalate to where it did. It makes me think that perhaps we have a mentally disturbed or emotionally disturbed person, but again, until we know further, and we identify him, that's only speculation."

According to police, after the altercation, the woman drove about a mile and a half to a 7-Eleven near Route 1 and Willis Road to call authorities. Her phone was later found outside the park, near an intersection.

Police said a park visitor called around the same time, telling authorities he heard a scream, and then went toward the victim's location, only finding some of her personal belongings on the ground.

The park is in a secluded area, with little foot traffic.

Lewis said Chesterfield Police would increase foot patrols in the area and are going through surveillance video from any nearby cameras that may have caught the suspect leaving the scene.

The woman was treated in the hospital for minor injuries. She and her dogs are expected to be okay.

"I wouldn't think that people should have to think twice about coming to their parks, but I guess after the news this weekend, it might be what has to happen," Barker said.

Anyone with information was urged to call Chesterfield County Police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or through the P3 app.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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