The Marietta teenager was biking the almost 4-mile trail with a group about 10 a.m., but had rode ahead. When she rounded a bend in the trail, the victim said she saw a black taser with yellow markings resting on a tree stump. As she got closer, she saw a white male lying near the tree stump.
According to the incident report, as she rode by, the suspect deployed the taser, brushing over her helmet. She freed herself from the wires and pedaled away. She was able to have hikers call 911.
The suspect fled in the direction of Red Top Estates.
BCSO deputies responded within three minutes, Sheriff Clark Millsap said during a press conference Tuesday.
“The deputy responding along with the Department of Natural Resources, the victim took us immediately back to where it was,” he said. “There were no aphid, which aphids are, when you deploy a taser in law enforcement, it leaves little white pieces of paper. That way you can determine who the taser belonged to and where the cartridges came from and what law enforcement agency. There were no aphids on the scene and the wires were not there either, but you could see on ... her bicycle helmet that there were scratches that could be consistent with the probes that come out of a taser.”
A lack of aphids or other evidence may mean the suspect was using a civilian-type taser.
“... There’s a lot of, if you want to call it, confetti, or whatever you want to call them, that have markings on them, so that when you report back to taser that you need more cartridges, you can show what you were using and things like that,” Millsap said. “Now, the markings on the taser that she saw, the yellow tape it’s consistent with a T-26 taser, but citizens that are able to buy a taser, their cartridges don’t have the aphids in them. If we’d had some aphids there, we could have traced back to at least where the cartridge came from.”
Department of Natural Resources Cpl. Byron Young said the teenager was roughly half a mile from the parking lot area on the lower portion of the trail.
“I think they were all riding bikes and they had just kind of separated, going their pace. She said she had gotten probably about a mile ahead of them,” he said.
The topography of the area may have made it difficult for anyone to see the suspect prior to the incident.
“The terrain down there, the trail made a bend and ... there’s kind of the hill there. As far as the terrain goes, someone could be standing below that hill and you’re walking on the trail and you never see them, especially laying down,” Young said.
The recent attack on a woman hiking the Silver Comet Trail in Paulding County raised concerns about Tuesday’s incident, although Millsap said there was no reason to believe the two were connected.
“This is an isolated incident so far. We’re hoping that we can have a suspect and maybe put somebody under arrest soon,” he said. “We’re looking into as many possible leads. We’ve interviewed as many folks as we could find that were in the area at the time.”
Both Millsap and Young said no similar incidents had occurred in the area, reporting mainly thefts or entering auto cases.
“[We have not had] assaults. Now we’ve worked the thefts, we’ve worked ... back in January, February. ... They were all people in the immediate area and some of those, they had warrants and drug charges or something like that,” Young said.
Millsap said he could not speculate if the suspect may have also lived in the area.
“... He could have been parked in another part somewhere and come over to that location. ... It’s all speculation right now because, goodness for her, that she had enough to get on that bicycle and peddle it and not hang around and see what was going on. Fortunately for her also, he missed with this taser because a taser — I can attest to this fact — it will incapacitate you for a full five seconds,” he said. “... To my knowledge, other than the thefts and entering autos and stuff that we get, we’ve never had an actual, an assault, an attempted assault like this anywhere.
“... This is my opinion: If you’re gonna shoot a taser at someone, you intend to disable them and immobilize them for the full five seconds, or all you’ve got to do if the probes are in is hit the button again or hold it down and they’ll ride it for as long as they ride. This individual, whoever he was, had some type of intent to do something to this young lady.”
Despite being “shook up,” according to Millsap, the victim agreed to speak by phone with media Tuesday, but did not return calls to The Daily Tribune News by press time.
“It’s an eye-opening experience for something like this to occur here,” Millsap said. “We can’t stress the safety factor enough. Pay attention to your surroundings. Always listen — I don’t like for people to wear their earbuds because when you’re wearing earphones, ear plugs, ear buds, playing your music, you can’t hear approaching vehicles. You can’t hear anything. Be aware of your surroundings. Before you get out of the car, look around. Before you get back in the car, look around. Never open your trunk and look in your trunk without looking around and seeing if anyone is coming up behind you. Always check under your car.”
The suspect was described as a white male, possibly in his 40s, wearing a green baseball cap. Anyone with information is asked to call BCSO Investigator Jonathan White at 770-382-5050 extension 6024.