Police Chief: 'Don't run alone' - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police Chief: 'Don't run alone'

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Photo by WRCB Anchor Callie Starnes Photo by WRCB Anchor Callie Starnes

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The morning jog may feel a little safer in Chattanooga Friday.

That's because police say they caught the two teens who raped a woman running near Finley Stadium.

A nearby business recorded the pair on camera. But it was a suspicious mother who called police, when she found evidence of the crime with her son.

Police have charged 18-year-old Devontavious Bryant with aggravated rape, robbery and assault. A 16-year-old Washington Alternative School student faces the same charges.

Investigators say the two spotted the victim running outside City Cafe, just after 6:00 a.m.

They followed her eight to ten blocks, and then threw her down an embankment and attacked her.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd is hopeful the arrests will ease fears, but he has this message for runners: don't run alone.

"We do about three miles, and we start here every Thursday evening," says Berna Blackburn.

Berna Blackburn is part of a meet up group of about 20. They met online and now walk together weekly. Anyone is welcome.

It's a way to safely exercise and socialize.

"No one is going to mess with us," says Derek Brown.

"It's safe to walk in numbers," says Blackburn. "You have someone to walk you to your car, or someone to make sure you get back to your car safe."

It's a model for what the Chattanooga Police Department is urging citizens to do.

In a press conference Thursday morning, Chief Bobby Dodd had this message for citizens, after a female jogger was attacked, robbed, and raped.

"If you're going to be out traveling alone on side roads where there's not a lot of people, not a lot of lighting, certainly use caution," says Chief Dodd.

Two teenagers have been arrested in the attack, that Dodd calls an isolated incident.

Still, Dodd suggests using a buddy system, running in well lit and monitored areas, and letting someone know where you are.

While there is safety in numbers, even Berna Blackburn says her group plans to make adjustments.

"It's getting a little dark earlier," Blackburn says. "I think we'll be changing our time coming up soon."

The meet up is open to anyone.

Running, hiking, biking, and other interest groups are also available.

When running alone, or with a friend, Chief Dodd also suggests paying close attention to your surroundings, and that means listening.

Earphones can make it difficult for you to anticipate an attack.


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