By Darren Cunningham, Brian Schwartz
MONROE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Detroit man is in jail for allegedly sexually assaulting several males in a bathroom rest stop in Monroe County, Michigan.
Hundreds of people are in and out of the Michigan Welcome Center near the Ohio border every single day. However, a routine stop for some was anything but routine on Monday.
“It looked like someone slaughtered a deer. That’s how bad it was,” Todd Wood, a custodian at the welcome center, told WXYZ.
He said he helped cleanup blood shed by the suspect.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said the 32-year-old suspect from Detroit inappropriately touched several males, then physically attacked and sexually assaulted an 80-year-old man in the lobby and dragged him into the bathroom.
Investigators said others intervened as the victim tried to fight the suspect off.
“The guys beat the crap of him,” Wood recalled. “There was pools, pools of blood.”
The sheriff’s office said the suspect then ran across the northbound lanes of I-75 to his vehicle parked on the southbound median shoulder.
A pursuit down I-75 started when the first deputy arrived. An officer from Erie Township joined the pursuit, and it continued across state lines into Ohio.
Authorities said the pursuit ended when the suspect’s vehicle ran out of gas just north of Interstate 280.
Learning what happened at the rest stop had travelers reflecting on safety.
“It forces us to kind of heighten our senses around our awareness — so, where we’re at, what we’re doing. And how we’re making sure we’re taking care of ourselves,” traveler Horace Tiggs said.
Kathy McCartney, who stops at the rest stop weekly said, “I just think that people really need to step up and help other people out like they did yesterday.”
“I think, too, that they need to have some people around to monitor situations and monitor the area for safety,” she added.
Traveler Rob Mays said, “Personally, I just try to be aware of my surroundings at all times, and I just tell my kids the same thing.”
The sheriff’s office said the suspect is charged with fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault and sexual assault. He was lodged in the Lucas County Jail in Toledo, Ohio, and is in the process of being extradited back to Michigan.
This story was originally published April 12, 2023 by WXYZ in Detroit, an E.W. Scripps Company.