“We are asking the public, specifically women if they had any encounters with Mr. Braden that were questionable in nature or if something occurred involving him in the past that was never reported we would like to speak with you as soon as possible, so please contact us.”
April 4, 2017-Portage Police are crediting an astute resident and tips from social media as crucial in apprehending a man who sexually assaulted a woman at gunpoint in a public park. According to a statement from Chief Troy Williams, “our department sent out a notification to surrounding law enforcement agencies and a press release to the local media and also posted to our department Facebook page. We have had an excellent track record with identifying suspects in a variety of crimes with our public outreach via social media and the press.
We began receiving tips that next day and ultimately learned of a possible suspect, James M. Braden of 600 block of Olympia in South Haven, Indiana.” Chief Williams says that Braden was arrested without incident in his home on April 3.
Chief Williams says that Braden approached at least two other women in the park, including a Portage High School Student. “Prior to this occurring, the suspect had spoken with another woman and her daughter at the park. He approached them and asked her if she would help him “jump” his vehicle. The witness advised at first she did not think anything was suspicious until after the suspect got his vehicle started he then turned it back off and claimed he was waiting on his wife. Upon leaving the park she observed the victim running from the portable-restroom and was able provide police with a statement about her interaction with the suspect.”
“Both the victim and witness provided detailed descriptions of the suspect and his vehicle. He was described as a white male, approximately 5’-7”, 170-180lbs and 25-35 years of age. He was reportedly wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, grey and black shorts, a black stocking cap, and dark colored athletic shoes with some white on them. The suspect also had on a skull ring and had a dark colored tattoo that wrapped around his left forearm. His vehicle was described as a black Mitsubishi Outlander or ASX with a Harley Davidson front license plate.”
Chief Williams credited the hard work of the Portage Police Department “I want recognize the efforts by our officers and detectives. I am immensely proud of them for their dedication and passion for what they do. This offender was in custody a little more than 48 hours after this terrifying crime occurred. We hope this arrest offers the victim and her family some peace of mind. I also want to publicly thank all those that provided us information and tips. As much as we as police officers want to be able to solve all crimes, we know we cannot do it alone. This is our community and we all need to be invested in it and protect it together.”
Chief Williams stressed that Portage and its Parks are safe for the public ” I want to tell everyone we believe that Portage and its parks are still safe and that was an isolated incident. We live in an ever changing world where unfortunately at times terrible things happen to good people no matter where you live. Our job here is to find those offenders and bring them to justice. Our victim should not be defined by this incident and deserves some level of anonymity. She found herself in an impossible situation and made it through it. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with her and her family.”
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Copyright 2017 The Northwest Indiana Gazette