• Witness says man who punched him in face is Lake Eola attacker in composite sketch

    By: Kelly Healey , Jason Kelly


    ORLANDO, Fla. - The search continued Tuesday for a man who attacked a woman outside an Orlando apartment in Lake Eola Heights, authorities said.

    The attack happened last week at the complex on the 400 block of Cathcart Avenue.

    The woman was coming home from walking her dog when she saw the man behind her as she unlocked her apartment door, police said.

    Read: Composite sketch: Police seek man who attacked woman outside Orlando apartment

    Police said the woman told them she thought the man was heading into another apartment, but instead, he followed behind her, covered her mouth and pushed her apartment door open.

    Neighbors called police when they heard the woman scream. When a neighbor came out of another apartment, the attacker ran, police said.

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    Police released a composite sketch of the attacker.

    They said the woman described the man as 6 feet tall, with a beard and wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, basketball shorts and blue slides.

    Police said that during the incident, the man lost a shoe and a hat, and he spilled a 7-Eleven coffee.

    They said they're reviewing surveillance in the area, including convenience stores, after they received a tip that a man matching the attacker's description was seen hanging around a 7-Eleven on Summerlin Avenue.

    After Channel 9's report, a man came forward and said the same man in the sketch is the one who attacked him as he was walking down the street.

    The victim said the man was mumbling a few words before he punched him in the face, fracturing his cheekbone.

    "He was hovering over our dinner table as we were finishing up," said the victim. "It looked like he worked there. We thought he was the busboy."

    The victim said he believes the incidents are evidence of the area around Lake Eola becoming more dangerous and unpredictable.

    "He clenched both fists and looked at the girls and looked at me," said the victim. "Then (he) just mumbled something like, 'You all talk too much' and then just punched me. Hit me really hard, threw me against a fence."

    Investigators said a man also threw a chair and spit on customers at a restaurant Friday.

    Gina Bernardini, who owns a yoga studio in the area, said she, her clients and instructors are on hire alert.

    "I just ordered a bunch of pepper spray," she said.

    Last month, several downtown Orlando apartment buildings issued warnings of a man following a woman out of a Publix grocery store and attacking her on the street.

    OPD said its detectives have no reason to believe the attacks are related.

    Police said Tuesday afternoon that they have increased patrols in the area.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.

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