Salem groper victim: Be aware of your surroundings

The suspected serial groper is seen approaching Emma in this surveillance footage from last October in a Salem Fred Meyer’s parking lot released Jan. 23, 2014. (Salem PD)
The suspected serial groper is seen approaching Emma in this surveillance footage from last October in a Salem Fred Meyer’s parking lot released Jan. 23, 2014. (Salem PD)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — One of 26 women attacked by a possible serial groper in the Salem area is speaking out about her ordeal.

A surveillance camera in a Salem Fred Meyer’s parking lot captured the attack on Emma, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, last October.

She said the incident had changed some of her habits after the attack, which came as a total surprise.

“I was loading my groceries into the back of my car and the gentleman came up behind me [and] grabbed me. As I turned around to look at him, he pushed me down onto the ground and ran off,” said Emma.

Similar attacks in which a suspect wearing a hooded sweatshirt gropes women and runs off have happened to 26 women since October.

In the days after her attack, Emma said she took a self-defense class and took a look at her daily behaviors.

“I took a self-defense class and really took a hard look at my behaviors not that I had felt I had done anything wrong to cause this happening, but I thought, ‘OK, what can I learn from this?’” said Emma.

Just last Friday, police said two more incidents were reported. According to authorities, a 21-year-old woman was walking near D Street and 15th Street NE around 10 p.m. when a man tried to drag her into the bushes and pull down her pants. The woman was able to get away.

A short time later, a 16-year-old girl was walking along Fisher Road NE when investigators say a man grabbed her, ripping some of her clothing in the struggle.

Emma said she is now more aware of her surroundings when in public.

“I don’t look at my cellphone when I’m in public whether I’m in the mall or a grocery store. I have my head up, I’m looking at the people passing me, noticing what other people are doing around me,” said Emma.

Meanwhile, police said they continue to investigate a suspect they feel is getting more dangerous and have reached out to the FBI for assistance with this case.

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