Police investigate report of attempted sexual assault at Escondido gym

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Police are searching for a man who allegedly tried to sexually assault a woman inside an LA Fitness in Escondido Tuesday night.

Escondido police said the incident was reported shortly after 10 p.m. at the gym located at 362 W. El Norte Pkwy. The alleged victim was an LA Fitness employee.

Escondido police said the man had been hiding in the children's play area. The employee was closing up, and when she was alone, police said the man jumped out and went after her.

Police believe he punched her so hard, it knocked her to the ground. He then allegedly started tearing at her clothes, but she fought back and saved herself from becoming a victim of sexual assault.

According to police, the man ran out the emergency exit after she broke free.

Police said the employee did not know who the man was, which is part of why they say they're getting aggressive with this case.

Debbie Moore has been going to the gym for years and couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"I'm just kind of sad that would happen," Moore said. "It's kind of scary."

She seemed relieved to run into her friend, Tony. He was also shocked by the news.

"I've been coming here for a while, and it's kind of crazy to hear something like that happening here, but then again, there are always sickos around," Tony said. "That's wrong, that's real wrong. It takes a sick person to do something like that. That's not cool."

Members 10News talked to say they're hoping for better lighting and more security measures, but LA Fitness would not comment.

Police said the victim described the suspect as a Hispanic male approximately 35-45 years of age. He was about 5 feet 5 inches tall, heavy, with a shaved head and a teardrop tattoo under his left eye. The victim said the suspect also had a tattoo of a cross on his left ring finger. The suspect was wearing a white tank top, black shorts, black high-top tennis shoes and white knee-high socks.

The employee was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where she was treated and released for an abrasion to her back and complaint of pain.

When asked what should happen to the suspect, Tony said: "An ass beating ... I mean you're asking me, and I'm telling you: an ass beating."

Anyone with information is urged to call the Escondido Police Investigation Division at 760-839-4717.

Information can be left anonymously by calling the Escondido police tip line at 760-743-8477 or by going to the EPD website at http://police.escondido.org/.

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