Houston RCMP are now investigating a fourth incident in the Jamie Baxter Park/Mountainview Drive area involving stranger assaults or aggressive behaviour.
This time a woman was chased up the stairs from the park to Mountainview by one of two men she had encountered just moments before.
The incident happened the late afternoon of Dec. 8, between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., reports Corporal Ryan Fillmore, the commander of the Houston RCMP detachment.
“She was just walking and two men jumped out at her and one began chasing her,” he said.
What makes this fourth incident different is that the first three incidents on Nov. 2, Nov. 11 and Nov. 21 involved young people.
But what draws them together is that the stranger in all four incidents was wearing a dark hoodie and dark pants.
That makes an identification challenging because such clothing is common, leading Fillmore to appeal to the public.
“If anybody has seen anything, call us,” he said. “We’re continuing to investigate and are gathering evidence.”
He said one person was stopped following the latest incident but then released.
“If we’re notified right away, we can be in that area in minutes,” Fillmore added of the importance of contacting police. “We depend upon the public. We’re only as strong as our public lets us.”
One other commonality among all four incidents is that each took place between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., just as the sun is going down.
In the first incident a stranger grabbed a girl’s arm and made inappropriate comments while in the second incident, a man jumped out of bushes and chased a boy.
And in the third incident, the one on Nov. 21, after a stranger grabbed a 16-year-old boy from behind, the boy swung around and punched the stranger.
“That’s something we don’t advise,” said Fillmore of the boy’s reaction. “The [Canadian] Criminal Code does allow a person to respond [to an attack] with an equal amount of force. You can defend yourself but that could lead to something else.”
The RCMP have already spoken to area schools and principals have now been in contact with parents and others to speak to students about being extra vigilant.
“We also know that through social media, a lot of parents have become aware,” said Fillmore.
RCMP have been advising young people to travel in groups and to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
District of Houston staffers will also be meeting with Fillmore to talk about the possibility of more lighting in Jamie Baxter Park.
The prospect of improved pathways accompanied by sufficient lighting is featured in a study commissioned several years ago by the District on modernizing the park.