DNA evidence found on a victim who was sexually assaulted while walking along a trail at San Diego’s Balboa Park is what led investigators to the woman’s alleged attacker, a prosecutor confirmed Thursday.
“He’s a danger to this community,” said Deputy District Attorney Renee Palermo, referring to assault suspect Ameen Ali Bryant, 21.
“It’s a brazen attack, in broad daylight, in Balboa Park, which is something that we all should be able to enjoy every day,” Palermo added.
Ali has been charged with assault with intent to commit rape in connection with an attack that happened Jan. 14, at around 1:15 p.m., at Balboa Park.
According to San Diego police, Bryant allegedly assaulted a woman as she walked along the Bridle Trail on the western side of the park, south of the Cabrillo Bridge. The victim told police the suspect ran up to her from behind, grabbed her, forced her to the ground and then jumped on top of her.
Palermo said the victim was taking a walk at the park during her lunch hour when she noticed Bryant following her. Moments later, Bryant tackled the woman to the ground and violently forced himself on top of her, according to Palermo.
“At one point, he picked up a handful of dirt and put his hand over her mouth,” the prosecutor explained.
Palermo and sex crimes detectives said the woman struggled and was able to fight off Bryant.
During the tussle, two people coincidentally walked onto the trail, which police believe scared off the attacker. Upon seeing the passersby, the suspect fled the scene. He was last seen running north toward the Cabrillo Bridge.
According to Palermo, DNA evidence found on the assault victim helped lead police to Bryant. The
witnesses that walked onto the trail also identified him as the suspect, she said.
The prosecutor said Bryant is a documented gang member with a prior strike for robbery in 2012. He’s currently on parole for that offense. If convicted of the Balboa Park sex crime, Palermo said Bryant faces a maximum of 12 years in state prison.
On Thursday, a judge ordered Bryant be held in jail on $500,000 bail. He’s scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 19 and Feb. 21.
At the time of the attack in Balboa Park, SDPD Sex Crimes Lt. Chuck Kaye told NBC 7 that the last such assault in Balboa Park was also on the Bridle Trail in 2008. He said crimes of this type are rare.