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Suspect arrested in woman's assault at Bear Creek Park

Woman taken to hospital after being assaulted at Bear Creek Park

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs police say a suspect wanted for an assault that happened in late June at Bear Creek Park has been arrested.

On June 27, police found a woman at the south end of the park near Beta Loop, and she had serious injuries. She told officers that an assailant attacked her from behind and then ran from the area after seeing a witness on a nearby trail.

CSPD said investigators found items belonging to the suspect, including the weapon used in the assault, according to a report released Monday. DNA was recovered and tested to identify a suspect.

The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Gabriel Valencia, who is already in custody for multiple charges in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

On the same day as the assault, CSPD sent out a report that Valencia was missing and at-risk, and family members said they hadn't heard from him since early June. At the time, he wasn't considered a suspect in the assault.

Valencia is expected to be extradited to Colorado Springs to face a charge of attempted first-degree murder.

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A woman was taken to the hospital after being assaulted at Bear Creek Park shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday.

When officers arrived on the scene they found the victim at the south end of the park near Beta Loop and Sirius Drive (MAP).

Further investigation revealed that an unknown suspect assaulted the woman from behind and ran from the area after observing a witness on a nearby trail.

The suspect was described as a white or Hispanic man wearing a white tank top, black sweat pants, was carrying a black backpack and has a thin build.

Isaac Costley, a former police officer and now self-defense expert, says while he doesn't know exactly what happened in this situation, he knows many hikers get distracted by their cell phones.

"Not paying attention to your surroundings is the biggest thing to put you at risk. If you are going to be on the trails in Colorado Springs and still have cell service, you can be on your phone speaking to someone, because that is your first responder," he said.

Officers searched the area for the suspect but were unable to locate him.

Friends of the victim tell us she underwent surgery for her injuries and is still recovering in the hospital.

Police are reminding the public to be aware of their surroundings when they are out on the trails or in the park. 

"If you're walking alone on a trail and you see someone else, acknowledge them let them know you see them and keep your distance. You can say anything: 'Hey, having a great day today? How are you?'" Costley said.

If you have any information regarding the assault, call police at 719-444-7000.

Costley is also offering a free self-defense event "Out & About in Colorado" following this attack. He says the training is full of realistic techniques for real situations. The event will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 9. RSVP by visiting CFMAF.com or calling 719-375-0718.


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