Man accused of punching woman near West Campus in custody

AUSTIN - A man accused of punching a woman in the face, which later required emergency attention, is now in custody, the Austin Police Department said Thursday night.

Police said that on Tuesday, officers responded to a 9-1-1 call at the 26 West apartments in Austin. The caller stated that a man had attacked a female, though he lost sight of the suspect after following him to a 7-Eleven. He described the suspect as a white male, six feet tall with red/brown curly hair, a beard and wearing a grey, long-sleeve shirt with tan shorts.

Upon arrival, police said they made contact with the victim while she was being treated by paramedics. She said she was punched in the right eye by an unknown man. She said the suspect did not say anything prior to, during or after the alleged assault.

After observing swelling, redness and bruising to her right eye, police said she was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

While taking witness statements, police said they received reports that the suspect was talking to himself, looked malnourished and lanky. One witness said he was walking home from grocery shopping when he heard the woman shriek and call for help. When he found her, he reported that she told him she had been punched by the man and he noticed she had a swollen eye that was draining blood.

Police said a group of students stopped to help, and some of them followed the suspect. When making contact with the witnesses and receiving descriptions of the man, police began to suspect Searfoss, who had been seen by an officer earlier that day and was known to hang around the area, where police said he would often talk to himself.

Upon reviewing surveillance video from a nearby 7-Eleven, police said Searfoss was observed walking toward the direction of where the assault occurred. Later, police said a photographic lineup was presented to the victim and she identified Searfoss as the person who assaulted her.

Searfoss was charged with assault causing bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor.

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