‘It’s scary,’ neighbors shocked as police arrest sexual assault in their east Wichita neighborhood

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police arrested a 26-year-old man following a series of sexual assaults that occurred Thursday afternoon starting at Towne East Mall.

A woman said she had been sexually assaulted. As officers took the report, they received another call from the mall about another woman being attacked.

The officers went inside the mall by Von Maur and contacted the other woman. The officers proceeded to compare both incidents and to look for the video of who the suspect was and what direction they would’ve left out of the mall.

Within 20 minutes of that development, police said they received a third call involving sexual assault in the area of East Gilbert. A woman was unloading her groceries from the car when she said a man came up from behind her and sexually assaulted her. This caused her to fall to the ground and scream, which alerted her husband inside the house. The husband then pursued the suspect, where a knife was drawn, and 911 was called. 

The officers went from the mall to the new call, where they chased after the suspect when they saw him in the 8300 block of East Gilbert. Since the suspect claimed to have had a gun, officers slowed down, and the individual ran inside a house. 

The house was subsequently surrounded by the pursuing officers, where they waited and called in negotiators. Negotiators went inside the house where verbal contact was made inside of a bedroom, and the suspect gave up without any incident.

KSN News on Friday learned the suspect was booked on suspicion of rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, aggravated assault, and criminal threat.

For many in the neighborhood the incident came as a shock.

“It’s usually a quiet neighborhood,” said Diana Eastman.

Eastman said the sexual assault reports are very concerning.

“It’s scary. I go in and out of the house all the time, and I would never think that someone would come up behind me like that.”

For some neighbors who knew the suspect, Thursday’s incident was a tough pill to swallow.

“My wife and I are just devastated,” said Woody Thompson. “I can’t say I hope it’s a mistake. It’d be nice if it was a mistake.”

Wichita police said detectives are conducting interviews with the victims after the suspect was taken into custody. The investigation is ongoing.

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