Chief Deputy C.E. Gable Jr. said his officers and the forestry department have searched the area around the wooded hiking trail several times, looking for vehicle tracks and other evidence, but have found only one spent shell casing. They are not sure it is connected to Saturday’s incident.
The cyclist, whose personal information was redacted from an incident report, told deputies he was riding alone before 9:30 p.m. when he was knocked from his bike by a rope strung between two trees. When he came to, he said, one of three white men in camouflage were trying to remove his pants to sexually assault him.
The victim escaped after elbowing one of the men in the face, but they fired a shot at him as he ran away. He told police he returned fire with a Glock he keeps for protection.
The sheriff’s office has been unable to find any witnesses who saw anyone or any vehicles in the area that evening.
A report of the incident spread through social media during the weekend after someone identifying herself as the bicyclist’s wife wrote details of the attack near Stevens Creek on a Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association community bulletin board online. The posting described the attack as taking place a half-mile from the parking lot at the trailhead.
She referred to the assailants as “hunters” and said they told her husband the woods “were for hunters only, but that he was going to learn tonight.”
Gable said the statement is odd because hunting season is not open.
According to the report, deputies did not enter the woods after responding to the attack because it was too dark and the sheriff’s office did not have the manpower or resources to track into the woods. Only two deputies were working that evening with no supervisor on duty.
When the bicyclist requested that deputies call for dogs and a helicopter, Gable said, the deputies knew it was not a possibility. The McCormick County Sheriff’s Office does not have a K-9 tracking team of its own and has to rely on outside agencies or the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
“The officers at the time didn’t know to call wildlife (management) to see if they could come and assist with a four-wheeler,” Gable said.