Anderson Police investigating armed robberies at Shadyside Park
A string of violent muggings have police on alert and community members stepping forward to make a park safer.
The crimes have taken place in recent weeks in Shadyside Park near the marina. Over the past two months, four violent attacks have been reported. (See below for details about each incident.)
While no one was seriously hurt, police are calling on residents to be mindful of their surroundings. In all four cases, which occurred at different times of the day and night, the victims were alone.
"Shadyside is a magnificent urban park gem," said Pastor Jim Lyon, Madison Park Church of God.
The pastor is a big fan of Shadyside, but he's also upset about the what's recently happened along the hidden parts of these trails.
"The overgrowth takes over the trails to the place where it's very difficult to negotiate the trails safely and especially if you're alone," said Lyon.
"It also affords an opportunity for would-be thieves and robbers to come in and take advantage of that aesthetic beauty that this park offers," said Det. Joel Sandefur, Anderson Police.
Anderson Police are investigating four armed robberies inside Shadyside park over the last two months. Police say the attackers have used knives and guns.
The most recent attack happened around 10:00 am on Sept. 27th, a Saturday morning. The victim was walking along the trails when a man came up and asked for money. He said no. A short while later, the suspect came back, hit him on the head and took his wallet.
While there are cameras hidden in this park, Pastor Lyon believes the only way to make this park safer is to clean it up.
Just a couple weeks after the last alleged attack, Pastor Lyon helped lead hundreds of volunteers to "do something for Anderson."
City budget cuts have led to the park becoming overgrown. For three years - once in the fall and spring - six local churches send volunteers here to pull back the brush and trim the trees. It's a way this pastor says will make the park safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
Anderson is facing a $1.5 million budget deficit, according to Mayor Kevin Smith's office. The mayor is proposing to cut seven police officers and 20 firefighters from Anderson Police and Fire Departments, and a protest is planned ahead of a public hearing Thursday at City Hall. Public safety is top of mind for many Anderson residents who oppose the cuts.
The most recent crime happened September 27th in Shadyside Park near the marina.
The victim says the suspect asked if he could borrow some money. When the victim said he didn't have any money, he was struck in the back of his head and had his cash stolen.
The suspect in the Sept. 27th incident, which occurred just before 10:00 am, is described only as a white male in his late teens or early twenties, six feet tall with a husky build. The victim told police the suspect was dressed in gothic style clothing and wore a black t-shirt which sported 2-Insane Clown Posse pictures.
On September 19th, a robbery was reported in the same area, but in that case, the victim said there were two men who robbed him: a white male in his late teens to early twenties, 5'2" to 5'4", with blond hair having a thin build, and a black male in his late teens, 6'2", 185-200lbs.
The Sept. 19th incident occurred around 11:30 pm. The victim told police he was fishing off the dock in front of the Shadyside Bait Club when he was accosted by the two men.
The victim told police that while he was fishing, he saw a Pontiac Grand Prix drive into the area. He watched as the two men got out of the car and proceeded to smash out a window to the bait store.
When the victim yelled that he was going to call the police, the two men forced the victim into their car at gunpoint, and drove him to an undisclosed location where he was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money and eventually released, unharmed.
On Sept. 20th, another robbery occurred at around 12:48 pm along the Shadyside Park walking trail. The victim reported being robbed at knife point while riding his bicycle after stopping to get a drink of water. The suspect told police the suspect approached him holding a knife and demanded his money. The suspect then fled on foot south along the walking trail. The suspect was described as a white male in his 20s having worn black and white plaid shorts, with a V-neck T-shirt. The suspect was said to have blue eyes, brown hair with a left arm tattoo.
On August 25 around 11:30 pm, a male cyclist told police a white male in his mid twenties, six feet tall, 190-210 lbs., robbed him of his bicycle in the 1100 block of Silver Street. The victim told police the suspect seemed to come out of nowhere, grabbing hold of him and throwing him to the ground. During the scuffle, the suspect kicked the victim in the stomach and was able to make off with the bike.
The victim chased the man and caught up with him near Shadyside Park. The two scuffled over the bike and the victim was assaulted a second time. The suspect got away with the bike and the victim had scrapes and bruises.
If anyone has information as to the identity of these offenders they are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 649-8310 or the Anderson Police Department at 648-6775.