Police to Briarcliff residents: Don’t worry, be careful

Neighborhood upset after attack on jogger

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, March 23, 2009

DeKalb County police officials advised residents in the Briarcliff/LaVista road area to be cautious but not paranoid because a jogger was stabbed last week.

More than 100 people attended a community meeting Monday night at Peachtree Baptist Church, and some wanted more details about the suspect and the attack. Police, however, declined to release any information because it’s an ongoing investigation.

Kimellen Tunkle, 54, was jogging in the normally sedate neighborhood near Southland Vista Court and Briarcliff Road the morning of March 17 when a man wearing a mask and gloves grabbed her from behind, police said.

Tunkle fought back and the man stabbed her, police said. She was released from the hospital Monday.

DeKalb Capt. T.F. Lane, assistant precinct commander, told the audience that police statistics show violent crime in the Briarcliff area is down 21 percent since January and property crimes are down 15 percent.

“We have little to no violent crimes [in this area],” Lane said.

But police officials urged neighbors to be observant and use common sense as they live in an urban area.

Tyrone Higginbottom has lived in LaVista Park for four years and said he is always vigilant about his surroundings.

“I was shocked because it’s the first time it’s happened in this neighborhood,” he said. “We don’t get violent crimes in this area. I feel completely safe in my neighborhood, but you have to be aware of your surroundings.”

Michelle Friedman, another resident of the area, told the audience that she has started a Google group called BriarVista Neighborhood Forum as a way for homeowners’ associations and other community members to connect and share information. Friedman started the online group the day after the stabbing.

“We felt too safe for a long time. But you can’t walk around scared all the time,” said Friedman who takes her two dogs when she walks.

Police Safety Tips for Exercising

— Be aware of your surroundings at all times by limiting your distractions.

— Call 911 if you see a suspicious person or vehicle in the area.

— Try to run in pairs or with pets.

— Team up with other runners who run during the same time.

— Run in high visibility areas; avoid isolated roads and paths.

— Wear reflective clothing.

— Carry a personal alarm, cellphone or personal safety items.

— Turn down the music on your iPod or MP3 player while running.

Check the Dekalb County Police Crimetrac Web site to find crime statistics and incidents in your area.