PORT RICHEY — About 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, a woman using an ATM at the Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union at 7225 Ridge Road was attacked by a masked man who forced her into nearby woods at gunpoint and raped her.
After the man left her, the woman was able to walk to Ridge Road and flag down a motorist for help, said Doug Tobin, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
"She went through quite an ordeal," Tobin said.
He said the Sheriff's Office rarely gets cases of strangers abducting and sexually battering women. It's usually someone who knows the victim, Tobin said. He said deputies are releasing information about the case to try to catch the attacker and "so people can take necessary precautions for their own safety."
The Sheriff's Office did not release information about the victim due to the nature of the crime.
Tobin urges anyone with information to contact Detective Pete Federico at the Pasco Sheriff's Office toll-free at 1-800-854-2862, ext. 7815. People can also leave tips anonymously by calling the toll-free crime tips line at 1-800-706-2488.
Tobin reminds people to use caution when going to ATMs — especially at night. He said to go only to ATMs that are well-lit and in high-traffic areas. Also try to use only drive-through ATMs, so you don't have to get out of your car. He said to "heavily refrain from using a walkup" ATM.
Tobin said to never use an ATM where someone is loitering.
"Try to limit an opportunity for someone to commit a crime like this," Tobin said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.