Despite interviews, suspect offers police no motive for “random” attack
ANCHORAGE – Police arrested 21-year-old Rodney Stevens for assaulting a female student on her way to school Tuesday morning.
Lt. Anthony Henry, the commander of school-based officers known as Student Resource Officers (SRO), said the student was on her way to Bartlett High around 8:30 a.m. when she noticed a Native man walking behind her. The student was on school property — walking near “the pit,” an electrical junction box surrounded by a wooded drive meant for utility vehicles — when the man approached her.
Police said the man, later identified as Stevens, introduced himself to the teen and told her he was also a student. Then, police said, he attacked her, striking her face and wrapping his arms around her neck, drawing a “significant amount” of blood.
Police said Stevens fled the scene as the girl continued on to school. Once inside, SRO Cindy Tanaka noticed her distress and reached out to help. As Tanaka attended to the teen and noticed police dispatch, another officer, SRO Kristi Mercer, took down a description from the girl and tracked Stevens down just blocks away, where he was walking with bloodied hands along Boundary Avenue and Muldoon Road.
The student was hospitalized for minor injuries and released this afternoon.
Police confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Stevens was in custody and speaking to investigators, who said Stevens did not appear to be under the influence of any substance.
Police said Stevens and his victim “were strangers” and, despite conversations with detectives, Stevens had not offered police a motive. He remains behind bars at the Anchorage Jail, pending $5,000 bail, and faces a single charge of assault.
Tuesday outside Bartlett, Lt. Henry urged students who walk to school to travel safely, and in groups.
“It’s always safe to walk in a group, so you’re not alone,” he said to reporters assembled outside Bartlett. “Safety in numbers is always something that is beneficial, particularly when you have an attack like this.”
Police stressed that the teen’s awareness of the suspect allowed for a good description, which made for a quick apprehension; they also emphasized the need for people to have situational awareness of their surroundings.