Sexual assault of 67-year-old woman ignites community meeting with Fremont police chief

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- Haunted by a horrific crime where a 67-year-old Asian woman was punched and sexually assaulted by a man earlier this month, Fremont resident, Sheila Mani, decided to act.

"When our elective representatives agreed to meet is when a lot of the community members also decided to come together because then we found a forum where our voices could be heard," said Mani, adding, "It started off as a small mail and then with a small flyer and then it soon gained momentum."

Fremont resident, Sylvia Wong, was among those who gathered at Irvington Park on Sunday to question council members and Fremont's police chief asking how they will be protected from attacks like this one.

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"Immediately, I went to Amazon and purchased the pepper spray and I purchased three. One for my daughter, one for my mom and one for myself," said Wong.

On May 13th, Sindu Manickkawelly was at a park when her friend along with her dog were both attacked by a man.

"She said I'm going to film this and then he caught her arm and twisted it all the way back and she started screaming. I said if you do this I'm going to call the police," said Manickkawelly.

They didn't report the assault then, but after Sunday's meeting, they both decided to file a police report.

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"We are not programmed to react as fast as we want to react to these things. So, that is the learning curve," said Manickkawelly.

At Sunday's community meeting, Fremont Police Chief Kimberly Peterson emphasized the importance of reporting any type of crime.

"It's appropriate to call. It's okay to call," said Chief Peterson.

The suspect in the May 13th attack, identified as 28-year-old Alexander Lomax, was arrested while police say the attack was still in progress. Investigators later linked him to two other attacks.

"About an hour before there had been another similar attack where a woman was going for a jog a few miles from here and she was also attacked by this subject randomly," said Chief Peterson, and added, "We definitely upped our levels of police patrols in this area."

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Fremont councilmember Teresa Cox focused on the importance of this meeting for the community to heal.

"How are we going to collaborate with out police and know who is our police patrol? Know who is helping us in our community and also all the neighborhood block captains," said Councilmember Cox.

Fremont police believe there could be more victims in the neighborhood who were attacked by Lomax. The Mayor of Fremont also demanding the District Attorney to prioritize this case.

Detectives have encouraged victims or anyone with knowledge of these cases to contact Detective David Rodriguez at (510)-790-6900 or drodriguez@fremont.gov.


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