PANAMA CITY, FL- Family members of a teenage rape victim are speaking publicly about the assault and initial police response.
As we first told you Monday the attack happened last week in the Glenwood community. Wednesday we learned that the victim is an 18 year old high school student. She was attacked last Friday, but it took 3 days for details of the crime to become public.
The girl was attacked as she walked home from school. A man hit her in the head with a shovel, dragged her into some woods behind an abandoned house on 11th court, and sexually assaulted her.
Wednesday family members said she's still in shock, and they're afraid that it could happen to someone else.
Trina Ewell said, "To hear the phone calls, and then to physically see it was something traumatic."
Police began their investigation Friday afternoon, but the family says they didn't get the initial response expected.
"Sunday was when we were like, 'we have to do something.' There's still no contact, no call back."
Taking matters into their own hands, family members began handing out flyers, and searching the area where the attack occurred.
They found the girl's bracelet near the house, and the shovel they think was used in the attack. They turned the evidence over to police.
Wednesday Police Chief John Van Etten said officers should have done more. "What I regret most is that there was a serious breakdown in communications," Van Etten said. "The supervisors, no one in command staff here, the Lieutenant, our public information officer. None of this information got to those folks that mattered. Absolutely a public safety bulletin should have gone out Friday afternoon, that should have happened."
The family and community leaders are now getting that word out to the community.
Greg Dossie, with the Rainbow Push Coalition said, "Violently attacked. Violently attacked, before she was sexually assaulted. So, the parents need to be made aware of that."
"We're just asking the community, for once, come out of your shell, and it's now time to help us," added Ewell.
As of Wednesday afternoon Police are still searching for the suspect, and say the investigation has not been compromised.
The suspect is described as a black man in his mid-to-late 30's, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with dreadlocks or corn row braids.
If you have any information about this case, call the Panama City Police Department at 850-872-3100.
The family and police are offering a $5,000 dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. They family has scheduled a rally on 11th court and Martin Luther King Jr. drive this Friday May 4th at 3.