As Bemidji police investigate attempted rape, community members express safety concerns

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BEMIDJI, Minn. (Valley News Live) A neighborhood is on high alert after police officers say an attempted rape happened in Bemidji, Minnesota.

While the Bemidji Police Department says the public is not in danger, those who live in the Nymore neighborhood where it allegedly occurred disagree.

Karen Thompson said she’s angry the incident happened on her property.

“I carry mace with me all the time. I have my permit to carry and I wouldn’t want to resort to a gun but I feel well protected where I’m at. But I am concerned because I have grandchildren,” Thompson said.

Most people found out about the incident after a Facebook post was made in a group page.

We made several phone calls to Bemidji police, but it took us driving to the police department to get details.

According to police, dispatch got a call at around 5 am Sunday of an attempted rape at the intersection of Roosevelt Rd SE and Donald Ave SE.

Thompson showed us the area where it reportedly took place.

“In these bushes here, he came up from behind her with his hand and covered her eyes,” Thompson said.

Mary Smerud lives a few houses away from Thompson in the same Nymore neighborhood and said she’s concerned for her young daughter and her friends.

“We used to let them ride their bikes just for fun and now we can’t even do that,” Smerud said. “This guy is getting brave enough that he’s possibly going to start picking other times in the day to do it.”

Police said they don’t know if the suspect is still in Bemidji.

Yet that sentiment is not reassuring to one woman who lives in the neighborhood. She’s a friend of the victim, who she described as being in her late 30s to early 40s and Native American. She didn’t want to be identified because she doesn’t feel safe.

“As a Native American woman, you know, there’s a lot of Native American women that go missing and are never found. It just seems like no one was doing anything about it,” she said.

She said her friend was out that early Sunday because the victim walks to and from work.

“She’s very shaken up, she seems traumatized definitely.”

Bemidji police said the public should pay attention to any suspicious person or vehicles in their neighborhood and to immediately call 911 if they spot something unusual.