Joggers unaware of threat near campus

Suspect remains on the loose

Veronica Morley, Reporter

Recently, multiple security alerts have been sent out through text messages, voicemails and emails to Bakersfield College students. The alerts have been regarding a male driver harassing female joggers along Panorama Drive.

These alerts were as followed, “SAFETY ALERT: The Bakersfield College Office of Public Safety has been made aware of 2 additional incidents involving female joggers being followed by a male driving an older gold Camry. Please contact (661) 395-4554 if you have any information or notice any suspicious behavior.” The last alert was sent on Sept. 12.

BC’s Public Safety Department has not responded to requests for interviews on the incidents.

Although the students at BC have been made aware of these incidents, many others who use the paths along Panorama Drive have no knowledge of them.

Jessie Marler was out walking along these paths Sept. 19 when she was informed of these events.

“It kind of makes you feel a little unsafe. I was going to come up here earlier, but I thought I’ll wait until it gets little lighter,” she said. “So I think being up here in pairs and being completely aware of your surroundings is important.”

Marley suggested if you have no other protection, to keep a hand on your keys in your pocket and “pull your key out and use it as a defense weapon if you have to.”

Some joggers have these same concerns about safety when coming to these paths, but others do not.

Another female jogger stated that she mainly just focused on what she was doing out there and “never really thought about it,” especially since she’d never experienced anything similar.

Other joggers were not surprised to hear of the incidents. Sandra Rikards stated she always took caution when jogging these paths. “I never wear headphones when I go running and I carry pepper spray with me. You never know what could happen out here, especially in the mornings when traffic isn’t too busy or not that many people are around,” Rikards stated, even though she has never experienced an incident.

Danny Merse was walking along the trails with his wife when informed of the situation. “We hadn’t heard anything about that. You would think that would have been made known to the public,” said Merse.

The initial report of this type of activity took place in late August. Since then, two separate complaints were reported on Sept. 4 and Sept. 12. In one incident, a man in a Camry made a U-turn to face the joggers, turned on his beams and got out of the car. The second incident involved two men in a Camry slowly passing a jogger, backing up to her and trying to engage. They left when the jogger was joined by other fellow female runners.

The lead detective from the Bakersfield Police Department has been Police Detective James Moore since the initial incident in August.

The suspect is a man in his 40s or 50s with a thin build, clean shaven, and has long blonde hair. The car is a faded gold 1990s Toyota Camry. The case is being investigated as a “suspicious circumstance.”