Ocean Springs women organize walk to rally support for sex assau - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs women organize walk to rally support for sex assault victim

Several women are organizing a community walk this Friday night to show their support for the victim of a sexual assault on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. One of the organizers says the crime made her so angry, she had to take action. (Photo source: WLOX) Several women are organizing a community walk this Friday night to show their support for the victim of a sexual assault on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. One of the organizers says the crime made her so angry, she had to take action. (Photo source: WLOX)
Other women told us they are taking extra precautions and have been more aware of their surroundings since the attack. (Photo source: WLOX) Other women told us they are taking extra precautions and have been more aware of their surroundings since the attack. (Photo source: WLOX)
OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

WLOX has new information on the investigation into the sexual assault on the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge. Investigators have chased down potential leads from state line to state line, even into Mobile. Since the attack Friday night, police and the mayor have been working on plans to improve safety on the bridge. And several women are rallying the community to support the victim.

Even on a blustery day with temperatures in the 30s, you will find people walking or jogging on the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge. That's why Robin Cooley always felt she was safe there.

"I've walked alone many times in the morning, or sometimes in the afternoon," said Cooley.

When asked if she ever thought anything bad would happen to her, Cooley replied, "No, never."

That changed Friday night when she learned that a woman had been sexually assaulted on the Ocean Springs side of the span.

"I was enraged actually. I think I threw a tantrum," said Cooley.

Cooley turned that anger into action. She and her friends formed "Gulf Coast WAVE," which stands for "Women Against Violence Everywhere." The group is organizing a walk across the bridge Friday night as a show of support for the rape victim.

"It touches us. She's a member of our community. Everybody that walks this bridge is a member of our community, and if we don't stand behind each other, who's going to stand behind us?" she asked.

"It was a horrible incident and certainly, we're concerned for women wherever they walk," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran.

The mayor said police officers have doubled-up patrols and are considering other safety measures.

"We're thinking about installing a security camera here on the pathway, so it could be monitored at all times, and coordinate that with the city of Biloxi on the other end of the bridge as well," said Moran.

Moran said she'd like to see signs posted nearby to warn walkers about the security cameras. She urged all walkers to take precautions, like travel in pairs, carry an alarm, lock up your vehicle, and be aware of your surroundings.

Many bridge walkers are also taking extra steps to protect themselves.

"I do bring my phone with me, and I might purchase some pepper spray to bring with me," said Cheri Salvetti of Ocean Springs.

The crime has prompted women to exercise caution and show a unified front against violence.

"This happens everywhere, to anybody, at anytime, and we need to do what we can to bring it to people's attention," said Cooley.

The WAVE Walk across the bridge starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Ocean Springs Yacht Club. The event is free, however, donations will be accepted for the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-Violence.

Meanwhile, police are asking the public for help in tracking down the suspect. They have eliminated as many as six people who were considered potential suspects. They are still looking at a couple of new people of interest.

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