Self defense experts are giving tips on how people can protect themselves after Wichita police said a female runner was assaulted on Monday.
Police said the victim, 18, was jogging on the bike path near McLean and Seneca around 1:30 p.m. on Monday when Ronald Knittle, 36, physically assaulted and attempted to sexually assault her.
“I was a little bit surprised. We do runs down there on Wednesday nights during the winter. Normally, everybody feels safe,” said runner and First Gear employee Dale Bing.
“Shocking, terrifying,” said outdoor enthusiast Carey Hobart. “Right out in the middle of the river path. You think it would be in the dark, in an alley or something, but yeah, that was very bold, very bold, very scary.”
Hobart said she has never felt afraid to run or bike in Wichita, however she said she makes sure to be aware of her surroundings.
“I look around. I’m careful. I greet people. I make eye contact,” she said.
KSN spoke with a self defense expert to find out how runners can protect themselves if a situation similar to what happened on Monday should arise.
“Don’t be a victim, be aware,” said Chris Rangel.
Rangel is the creator of “Girl 2 Girl.” It’s a self defense program that teaches and demonstrates how girls can escape unwanted advances.
“We teach them basic palm strikes, knee strikes, heel stomps, basic things that can get them out of trouble,” Rangel explained. “We don’t teach them to fight per-say to engage for an all out fight, but we want them to use a shock and effect situation, so it’s a boom, a quick shock. It will startle the person enough to escape.”
Rangel said the first thing runners need to do when they go out for a run is to scan their surroundings.
“I want them to know what’s going on. Be aware. Be aware of what’s happening. Be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of footing,” He said. “Be aware of the cars. Be aware of people. Be aware of people that aren’t normally around.”
He said knowing your surroundings can play crucial in an escape plan.
“Always look at your exit plan. You should have a route of escape. I can run up to a house and pretend that’s my house, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
If someone is attacked, Rangel recommends the victim scream, hit and run.
“You need to yell on the top of your voice and explode,” he said.
After someone escapes, Rangel said they should immediately contact the authorities to report the incident. He said that could prevent another person from falling victim.
Rangel added people should not be afraid to enjoy the outdoors.
“It’s not running in fear. It’s running in empowerment. When you feel empowered and you carry yourself you become less chance of becoming a victim,” he said.
The victim in Monday’s incident sustained minor injuries.