Local News

May 27, 2010 11:21 PM by Ariel Wesler

Neighbors speak about chasing assault suspect

Neighbors save a teenager after she's brutally beaten in Arroyo Grande and then chase after her attacker. It happened Wednesday afternoon near the 800 block of west Fair Oaks Avenue.

A 17-year-old girl was walking westbound when officers say the suspect dragged her under the bridge and started beating her. The girl was taken to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital where she is expected to be okay.

A terrifying experience turned into a heroic moment for two neighbors in Arroyo Grande.

"He was looking around and looking a little suspicious, so I just went out here to see what he was doing," said Steve Missamore, who helped chase down the suspect.

Missamore watched the scene unfold. A 17-year-old girl was walking west on Fair Oaks Avenue when 23-year-old Fernando Frias of Santa Maria stopped and asked her to help him look for his lost dog in the nearby fields. When she refused, he followed her.

"He stalked her pretty much. You know, he got behind her in front of her," Missamore said.

At one point, Missamore says the suspect tried to hide behind a tree. When the girl got to the bridge, he attacked her.

"Standing right here and to see him grab her and throw her down there that quick was like, 'oh gosh' it was scary," Missamore said.

Frias continued to beat her with rocks beneath the bridge, until another man excersing across the street heard a muffled scream and yelled at him.

"As soon as he grabbed her, I just took off running," Missamore said.

Both men seached the shrubs for the suspect and cut him off, detaining him until police arrived.

On a well traveled street, you think you might be safe here, but you're not," said Betty Johnson who lives nearby.

Not only is this bridge on a busy street, it's also a popular path for students walking home from Arroyo Grande High School.

Both neighbors say they just did what had to be done.

"If the guy up there wasn't over there doing pull ups and I wasn't paying attention to this guy, you never know what would have happened to her," Missamore said.

The other neighbor was treated for poison oak. Frias is being held at the San Luis Obispo County jail on charges of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. He also violated parole. Police say he and the victim did not know each other.

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