A 17-year-old Gunn High School student was brutally attacked from behind on her way home Tuesday afternoon, dragged into a car and sexually assaulted, but was able to escape about 90 minutes later in Sunnyvale, police reported Tuesday night.
Agent Dan Ryan said the girl was walking alone in the 500 block of Arastradero Road shortly after 3 p.m. when she was hit from behind on the head and forced into a car, driven to an unknown location and assaulted. She was also hit several times in the face, police Sgt. Sandra Brown reported later.
"She was pretty badly beaten up," Ryan said. She was being treated at a local hospital Tuesday night. Police in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale launched an all-out investigation that will continue through the night, Brown said.
Ryan said he did not know if the beating was only during the abduction or if there was additional beating during the assault.
"It was an hour or more of hell" in any case, he said.
The man was initially described only as being dark-skinned, and the girl was unable to give a description of the vehicle. But Brown later added that the man is believed to be black, in his 20s, with short hair, no facial hair, and of medium height and build. He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, she said.
The girl managed to escape from the vehicle in a residential area of Fairoaks Avenue in Sunnyvale and run to a nearby house for help, Ryan said.
"Anybody could have been a target," Ryan observed, adding that Palo Alto police plan to call in 10 or 12 additional officers to patrol streets Wednesday, Halloween.
He said until a suspect is apprehended that women of all ages should take extra safety precautions, and students especially should not walk alone but in groups of at least two or three. Women joggers and hikers also should take extra precautions and be with others.
Ryan said if anyone witnessed anything suspicious in the 500 block of Arastradero that might help with the investigation to please call the department's tip line at 650-329-2190.