Police search for suspect after street attack on woman in Denver

Police sketch

DENVER — Police are looking for the public’s help in identifying a man who tried raping a woman early Sunday morning.

It happened near 14th Avenue and Vine Street — a block-and-a-half from Colfax.

The violent crime is causing some neighbors to worry about how to make the street safer.

By day, Vine Street bustles along with the ordinary chores of life.

By night, it can hide the dark sides of our society.

“I don’t go out by myself. I know the safety risks that could be there,” says Denver resident Lisa Stanek.

She says those risks include violence against women.

It’s what police say happened when the man knocked a woman to the ground early Sunday, and repeatedly punched her while trying to take her clothes off. Neighbors say the stranger broke bones in her face.

A broken street light may have helped hide the attack.

Video shot Monday night showed how dark the street was. You could hardly see a man walking toward our camera–and only our camera light reveals a cat creeping along the sidewalk.

“You do have to pick and choose where you walk in the neighborhood just because of the lighting,” says Stanek.

She says she’s always aware of what she’s walking into. While Kim Constantinesco is aware of what she’s running into.

“I’ve had men and women, homeless people, shout at me. So it makes me pick up my speed. That’s why I run with my dog, too,” she says.

And Xcel says it takes action on customer complaints.

It sent a worker Tuesday afternoon to change the burned-out bulb in the street light after someone complained about the problem Tuesday.

Xcel says it’s not so sure a working light would have prevented the attack since lights are meant to illuminate nothing more than streets.

Lighting for sidewalks and alleys is up to property owners using porch and security lights.

But some neighbors disagree about the effectiveness of street lights. “I think it would help to a certain degree. But it’s also people’s awareness of what’s going on around them,” says Stanek.

Xcel has 50,000 street lights in Denver, so it relies on customers to call when the lights go out.