By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
For the last few weeks, one Montclair woman hasn’t walked her dog alone.
She’d said been walking her dog on Chestnut Street near Grove Street the evening of Aug. 27 when someone came up from behind her and grabbed her neck.
“He just kept telling me to shut up. He was really focused on strangling me and getting me down into the bushes,” the woman said. Montclair Local has agreed to withhold the resident’s name, to protect her privacy as the reported victim of an assault.
The account she gave to Montclair Local matches one provided by Montclair police this week, based on an account to them. According to police, they got a call about the incident at 8:32 p.m.
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“I fought back. I bit his hand and pulled his hair,” the woman said. She said she tried to push him, and herself, into the road. When her attacker saw headlights coming, she said, he let go of her neck.
The car that had been approaching stopped, the woman said. “I’ll never know what would have happened if she didn’t,” she said of that car’s driver. Two children and a dog had been in the car with the driver, as well, she said. The driver called 911, according to the woman and police.
The woman said her neck was swollen after the attack — “I have some scratches and bruises, but I’m OK.” According to police, she also suffered minor injuries to her knee. She was transported to Mountainside hospital by the Montclair ambulance unit.
Police said the attacker was described as about 5 feet and 8 inches tall with a muscular build, wearing a tight blue short-sleeved shirt and blue jeans. While police said he was described as having short hair, the woman described it to Montclair Local more as “medium-length” hair. Police had also said he was described as about 20 to 30 years old, but the woman said she figured the attacker to be “more like 30s to 50s — though, of course, it’s hard to tell someone’s age.”
Sgt. Terence Turner said as of Friday, Sept. 17, the investigation is ongoing.
The woman said she’d seen some speculation in local Facebook groups that other incidents recently reported to police — of lewdness incidents, in which at least one person was masturbating in the area of Nishuane Park — could be connected, but she noted some aspects of the way people were described in those incidents varied. Turner also said Friday police had no reason so far to believe the incidents were related.
“I just hope they catch him so it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” the woman said.