SAN ANTONIO – A morning walk along East Mulberry Street north of downtown resulted in trauma for a woman after being allegedly punched in the face.
San Antonio police responded to the 900 block of East Mulberry near Brackenridge Park just before 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning for reports of an assault. The woman told police she was exercising outdoors with her partner when a man allegedly punched her in the face and ran off.
Kristen Ibarra said she followed common safety tips, including staying alert, planning a route in a familiar area, staying on a sidewalk or path, having a partner, carrying her cellphone, making eye contact with passersby, and carrying a defense weapon.
“I had my little safety cat tool ready to go just in case anything happened, but it happened so quickly,” Ibarra said.
Ibarra had what authorities call plastic knuckle dusters, which look like a cat keychain. However, it’s a self-protection tool with pointed cat ears.
“We woke up around 5:30 in the morning, probably left the house at 5:35 (and) started walking,” Ibarra said.
Ibarra and her girlfriend headed westbound on East Mulberry Avenue.
“I figured, ‘OK, this time let’s go along Mulberry Street where there’s street lights, the gas station (and) cars possibly driving by, even though I know it’s still early,” Ibarra said.
Soon after, Ibarra said they crossed paths with a man possibly in his 30s.
“There was a guy walking up in our direction, and he looked like my age,” Ibarra said.
She admits she became uneasy due to the recent high-profile violence against women exercising outdoors. Many have voiced taking extra precautions after the abduction and murder of 34-year-old teacher Eliza Fletcher in Memphis last month.
“I stepped behind my partner to let him walk past us on the sidewalk,” Ibarra said. “I’ve heard (to) make sure you look at them, so you know what they look like. So, I did that, and then I gave him a nod like I see people do to each other in the morning.”
Moments later, they heard footsteps behind them.
“I know we’re both thinking like, ‘Is that him? Did he turn around? Is he coming back to us?’” Ibarra said. “And we turn (around), and he runs in front of us and starts yelling something at me about sex. And then he punches me, and my glasses flew off.”
She said the man then ran off.
“We hurried towards the gas station, and I pulled out my phone, called the cops,” Ibarra said. “They had asked if I wanted EMS, and I said, ‘OK.’”
Ibarra was able to recall key details about the suspect.
“He was, like, a few inches taller than me, like 5′ 8″, very thin, tan skin,” Ibarra said. “He kind of (had) some stubble, short black hair. He had on some skinny, like, white and pink denim pants and a white tank top with black stripes.”
According to SAPD, an assisting officer checked the surrounding area for the suspect while Ibarra and her girlfriend provided their statement.
“It had only been, like, less than five minutes when that cop who went to go look around came back and was like, ‘Should I keep looking?’ And one other cop said, ‘No, it’s fine. You’re not going to find him,’” Ibarra said.
Ibarra said she felt more could have been done to track down the suspect, so she asked nearby businesses to see their surveillance footage. Two of the three businesses let Ibarra see the footage but had no luck catching the suspect on camera.
“So, I (went) to First Tee Golf Club, and I asked the man (about the footage),” Ibarra said. “I told him my situation, and he told me he couldn’t give me the video (and) took down my information.”
That business told KSAT it’s against their company policy. They said SAPD hadn’t requested the surveillance video either.
“He did walk in front of their building on the sidewalk,” Ibarra said.
When asked via email on Friday afternoon why surveillance video had not yet been requested, SAPD said, “In misdemeanor assault cases, the victim must follow-up with the unit to move forward due to the sheer volume of misdemeanor assault cases.”
However, Ibarra said she moved forward with her case on Wednesday by pressing charges.
Days later, Ibarra’s left eye is still swollen and red. She hopes her experience serves as a lesson and reminder for other people exercising outdoors to be hyper-vigilant of their surroundings and with whom they cross paths.
Following Ibarra’s case, SAPD said Park Police Officers have increased patrol in the area and are actively looking for the suspect.