A Rohnert Park man suspected in last week’s attack of a woman jogging on a popular creek path told police he grabbed her because she was attractive, according to Rohnert Park police.
Officers arrested Nicolas Sterba, 18, on Tuesday afternoon after he was seen stepping onto the path along Copeland Creek and walking behind a woman who was jogging, Sgt. Jeff Justice reported in a release.
A nearby police officer on a motorcycle saw the man and attempted to stop him, but the suspect ran. There was a brief chase before Sterba was stopped in a nearby residential neighborhood.
Rohnert Park police added extra patrols to the path after the Aug. 25 assault report.
That afternoon, a woman told officers she’d been jogging on the trail when a man came up from behind and put his arm around her neck in a hold. She said she fought him off and he ran.
The assault was captured on video from a nearby home’s surveillance camera, Justice said.
Police put out a description of a young white man, maybe 19, with a thin build, wearing a “Russian-style” hat with furry ear flaps.
On Tuesday, Officer Justin Thompson was patrolling the path on a motorcycle near Santa Alicia Drive.
At about 1:40 p.m., a woman was jogging up ahead of the officer when a man wearing a sweatshirt with the hood pulled up stepped out from the side of the path and began walking behind her, Justice said.
The officer attempted to stop the man, who ran, jumping fences into apartment complexes. More officers joined the chase and he was stopped on Santa Alicia Drive.
During questioning by detectives, Sterba admitted to grabbing the woman in the earlier incident, saying she was pretty and he’d wanted to talk to her, hoping it would lead to something more, Justice said. He also said that after grabbing her, he’d realized it was wrong, let her go and ran off.
Sterba said he’d found Tuesday’s jogger attractive and hoped to get her attention without grabbing her but became nervous when he saw the officer and ran, said the sergeant.
Sterba was being held Wednesday in the Sonoma County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
He was arrested on one felony, false imprisonment with violence, and two misdemeanors, battery and resisting an officer.
Other recent incidents along the creek included a stabbing and attempts to steal cellphones, Justice said. He does not believe they were related to the jogger case.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.