YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Neighbors in the Baxter community say it’s a fairly quiet area; people are constantly exercising, walking their dogs, or grabbing food in Baxter Village. But that layer of security was taken away Monday morning after a Fort Mill woman fought off her attacker after he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Now, it has neighbors grabbing extra protection before they hit the pavement.

“I get up at 3:45 a.m. in the morning and either ride my bike or run. So this is really, I probably won’t be running outside for a while,” said one woman who declined to be on camera. 

It’s going to take some time for people living in Fort Mill’s Baxter community to feel at ease again. They say they were shocked by the news that a Fort Mill woman was allegedly sexually assaulted around 5 a.m. Monday.

“We all get in our safe zones and we forget it can happen anywhere. And I think that was my biggest thing is, you know, it doesn’t matter where you live; it can happen. People are out there. Things happen just when you think it won’t. And I think that’s probably why it did happen, because we all think, ‘Oh, we live in Baxter, it’s not going to happen’,” she said.

York County deputies say the woman was jogging along North Sutton Road when she heard someone running behind her. But that’s when the suspect reportedly tackled her and began feeling around her private areas. She told them they struggled until he ran off, spooked by a passing car.

“I actually just came down here to visit my folks, and I was second-guessed going for a run today because of what we heard yesterday,” said another female runner.

Regular joggers say the area’s well-lit, but they still wear extra gear to make them more visible. Deputies say the victim was wearing a headband with a light on it.

“The world is a scary place right now; that is the only thing I could say. I would like to see more of a police presence if that could be,” said another neighbor headed home. 

Runners say they will be extra safe now, bringing a partner if they can, even after the attacker is caught. If you have any information, you are encouraged to call the York County Sheriff’s Office.