Police question three suspects in assaults of two women in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Police question three suspects in assaults of two women in Basalt

Basalt police are questioning three suspects in connection with the assault of two women during apparent robbery attempts last week.

The assaults occurred about 20 minutes apart, with the first at 10 p.m. Thursday. Robbery rather than rape was the apparent motive, said Basalt Police Sgt. Chris Maniscalchi.

The first victim was a woman walking across the sidewalk of what is known as the 7-Eleven Bridge over the Fryingpan River.

“She was grabbed from behind. He tried to grab her purse,” Maniscalchi said.

Two “courageous” women driving by in a vehicle stopped the attack, he added. They were driving by when they saw what was happening. They got out of their vehicle and yelled at the attacker, who then fled to the Ute Center complex to the west.

Basalt police and Pitkin County deputy sheriffs responded to the scene. While searching for the attacker they heard the screams of another woman from the nearby Best Western Aspenalt Lodge.

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An officer saw a man hunched over a woman who was obviously in distress, according to Maniscalchi. The officer identified himself and told the man to stop and stay put but he ran and couldn’t be located.

The second woman said the man held a knife to her throat and tried to take her belongings. She was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with scrapes and bruises. The first victim was not transported. Both women were traumatized, as can be expected, Maniscalchi said.

“That [second] victim had just gotten off the bus across from Town Hall and was walking home to Elk Run,” Maniscalchi said.

Both attacks were made at random. Neither victim lost her purse or belongings.

Maniscalchi said he didn’t want to scare anyone, but police are advising pedestrians in the midvalley to “try to travel in the buddy system” while out after dark.

He said a crime like this is particularly troubling because it threatens the safe, small-town atmosphere that attracts so many people to Basalt.