Fresno Hall of Records attack prompts security changes

FRESNO, Calif.

The attack happened at closing time at the Hall of Records.

Investigators say their suspect came in, hid in the women's bathroom and jumped an employee who walked in. She fought back and now, so is the county.

Sheriff's deputies and county security officers rushed to the hall of records Thursday night after a county employee was attacked in the bathroom at the end of the work day.

County security officers patrol the building sporadically throughout the day and conduct a thorough sweep at the close of business, but they weren't quite in time to stop the attack.

"They were running a little bit late," said county chief of security Jerry Morris. "Usually they show up sometime between 5 and 5:10. The sergeant that was running the shift got here about 5:08, right about the time the incident was going off."

Co-workers say the woman hit her head on a wall, but was otherwise okay. She kicked her attacker and yelled for help, scaring the man away. But the incident is a big concern for county employees.

"Right away, I'm concerned about the safety of my people," said assessor-recorder Paul Dictos. "And this thing has been taking place for some time now. I saw a lot of strange faces coming into the bathroom."

Women in the building say the easy public access has always worried them and they're now using the buddy system when they go to the restroom.

Security officers say homeless people wander in and out of the bathrooms every day. They kicked out one man Friday for bathing in a second floor sink.

Dictos says it's time to limit who can get in. "If you don't work in the building, you don't belong in the building using our bathroom facilities."

County security says building codes won't allow them to keep people out of the halls or the restrooms. But they're doing all they can to make employees feel safe again.

"There will obviously be a beefed-up presence for a while, probably longer hours of coverage to make sure that we don't have the same type of incident," said Morris.

Investigators are looking at surveillance video from this area to identify the attacker, but so far they haven't figured out who he is.

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