Cloaked by night, she didn’t see him until it was too late.
“I really just didn’t even see it coming until the last second when he knocked me off my bike,” the victim told the News&Guide on Tuesday.
A 31-year-old Jackson woman was riding her bike home from a friend’s going-away party when a man threw his arm out and clotheslined her as she was riding down King Street.
It was 2:15 a.m. on Saturday. She was by herself and using her cellphone as a headlight.
His arm hit her throat, knocking the wind out of her and knocking her off her bike.
“My phone fell to the ground,” she said. “But he didn’t take off.”
In video surveillance from the nearby Teton County Courthouse, you can see the man shine the phone’s light toward the victim and back away.
“I asked him what he was doing and why he was doing it,” she said.
The victim studied the man’s face, trying hard to see if he was someone she knew.
“It was a dark street but he had blond facial hair,” she said.
In the video, as her attacker gets to the center of the intersection with her phone still in his hand, the woman follows him, walking at first and then running.
“I felt like my phone was my way to get help and I went after him,” she said. “He seemed surprised. He had me in a headlock and I was pulling him down toward me.”
She wrestled with the man until she could get her phone back.
“He told me I was ripping his shirt, which, like, why would I care?” she said.
Then the woman realized she was near the Jackson Police Department and told the man his attack was being recorded.
“The cameras didn’t occur to me until I tried to get him off me,” she said.
The man seemed spooked and started to take off.
“When he ran off he yelled back that I was crazy,” she said.
She kept her eyes on him to make sure he wasn’t coming back for her. Then she hopped on her bike and rode to the nearby house of a friend, who convinced her to call police. Her report was documented at 2:23 a.m.
“I have some bruises on my head from him hitting me with my phone,” she said. “And I have a bruise on my lip from me ripping my phone back.”
She’s lived in Jackson for nine years and this is the first time she’s ever been attacked.
“I feel a little shaken. I wish I had more vivid memories of it. You retreat into this animal part of your brain.”
She didn’t know her attacker, that she’s certain of. She thinks he was in his 20s or early 30s with blond hair pulled back, a little under 6 feet tall with sparse blond facial hair.
Detectives at the Jackson Police Department are reviewing surveillance footage.
A suspect hasn’t been identified and his motive is unclear.
“It didn’t feel like a robbery,” the woman said. “I am feeling self-conscious now. If he didn’t get what he wanted, I feel apprehensive about being out and about. That puts me on edge, and it was very intimidating. But I felt like if this isn’t an isolated incident, or even if it was, women deserve to know.”
She’s buying pepper spray and considering taking a self-defense course.
She hopes police receive some leads from the public and that the man can be tracked down.
“I am encouraged with how seriously the cops are taking this,” she said.
Jackson police Lt. Roger Schultz said it’s the only report of its kind from the weekend.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Schultz said. “If something doesn’t look right to you, go the other way and call law enforcement. When you’re out at night I recommend traveling with friends. Take a taxi or an Uber.”
The victim said the attack has affected her more than she expected it to. Even if police don’t solve the case, she hopes others will take it as a reminder.
“We feel so safe in this town,” she said. “We just all need to be a little more mindful that our bubble isn’t quite the bubble we think it is.”
If you have information about the attack or information about a suspicious person matching the description of the man, you’re asked to call the Jackson Police Department.