Neighbors demand safety improvements after Bradenton teen attacked walking to bus stop

No street lights, commissioner eyeing changes
Posted at 8:16 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 20:17:11-04

The man who attacked a Bradenton teen Tuesday is still on the run.  Neighbors are now pointing to a missing safety feature that could put more area teens in danger. 

Some in Pride Park are worried another attack could happen because they don't have street lights.  The victim was walking in the dark to her bus stop early Tuesday morning when the attacker threw her to the ground and demanded she pull her pants down. 

“He covered my mouth and he told me to shut up or he’d choke me," the victim, 16, told ABC Action News. 

She credits a passerby, Jose Macias, for scaring off her attacker.

"He looked like I had caught him doing something," said Jose Macias. "Then he just turned and he ran full speed." 

Macias is thankful he was in the right place at the right time, but says Tuesday's attack could have been prevented. 

"More than anything, it's lighting," said Macias. "I mean it is pitch black out here."

Students in this Pride Park neighborhood are left in the dark during their walk to the bus stop. 

ABC Action News met with Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, who represents the area, to get answers. 

"If we know this area is compromised at the moment and there's a big field here where people can hide, that's very upsetting to me," said DiSabatino. 

After we asked her about the lighting concerns, the commissioner took pictures to document the problem and is now vowing to investigate alongside public works. 

The neighborhood is eligible for redevelopment funds that are focused on improving public safety. 

Street lights and sidewalks are additions that can't come soon enough for students and parents. 

"It's long overdue," said Macias. "Especially with so many young children here who attend school."

The Manatee County School District is also reviewing bus stop locations.  The district's security manager, Troy Nelson, says he was on scene Tuesday to walk the area. 

"We always look at proximity to where most of the students need to be loading and unloading from the neighborhoods and certainly lighting and safety concerns are always things that we look at when we establish our bus stops," said Nelson.