By Tamas Mondovics
Accounts of women getting assaulted while running are a daily occurrence. Such events can understandably rattle any community’s sense of security, including the ones that are considered relatively safe.
A recent example of this was the incident involving an 18-year-old Bloomingdale resident who reported that she and her friend were jogging on Nature’s Way near Elton Place when the two noticed a suspicious white pickup truck, with the driver watching them, just before one of the women was attacked.
According to HCSO spokesperson, Larry McKinnon, at around 10:32 a.m. on Thursday, May 23, the 911 call came in indicating that an unknown man—later identified as 33-year-old Frank Emmanuel Zuniga of Valrico—jumped out from the bushes, blocked her way and grabbed her by the arms.
McKinnon said that the victim screamed and was able to fight Zuniga off, who then let go of her arms and fled a short distance on foot, got into his 2004 pickup truck and drove away.
“Fortunately she had enough strength to resist and fight off her attacker,” McKinnon said.
A massive manhunt followed and five hours later, Zuniga, who was described as possibly having some mental instability, was apprehended. Since he had a driver’s license he was charged with false imprisonment and battery.
Local residents were quick to point out that the community is relatively safe, although this is not the first incident in this area. About 11 days prior, another woman reported being grabbed in the same vicinity. HCSO detectives confirmed that Zuniga admitted to being responsible for that attack as well.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call 247-0455.