UPDATE: 14-year-old girl reports sexual assault near MKT Trail
COLUMBIA - MU Alert reported a sexual assault near Providence and Stewart Road in a wooded area near an MKT trail overpass around 2:30 pm, Thursday afternoon.
Columbia police said officers responded to Flat Branch Park where the victim and her friends said the incident happened.
Police said the victim is a 14-year-old girl. She told police she was at the park with friends and then went off on her own. A short time later, the friends heard her screaming.
The girl told her friends she had been sexually assaulted by a man they all saw running away from the area.
The victim described the suspect as a white male in his mid 40s with a thin build of about 6 feet tall. She also said he had a mole on his forehead.
He was believed to have left the area, although Columbia police continue to search for him.
EMS personnel took the girl to the hospital for evaluation, and she will have a forensic interview at the Child Advocacy Center.
Police did not know if the suspect and victim know each other.
Some trail goers said they take certain precautions to stay safe.
"I'm not usually out here too late," Brennan John said. "The later you stay out you know, the more dangerous it gets."
Another trail goer said he usually feels pretty safe during the day, but he makes sure to pay attention to what is going around him. He also said at night he never goes on the trail.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new information from Columbia police about the victim, location and circumstances.