Community Uneasy Amidst Trail Attacks

BECKLEY, W.Va. (WOAY) – Rails-to-Trails has been a popular walking area for years, but a number of attacks over recent years have put the community on edge.

Attacks such as rapes, shootings and stabbings have occurred on the trail. The most recent happened Monday afternoon in broad daylight. Police received reports that someone stabbed a man just two minutes from the police station.

“We did have an incident on the trail [on Monday,]” said Beckley lieutenant Jason McDaniel. “At this point in time, it looks like it was an isolated incident. It wasn’t a random act.”

The history of troubling incidents has driven several people away from the seemingly peaceful trail. Many refuse to walk alone or at nighttime. Some avoid the trail completely.

“ I don’t like being by myself anyways, but after the rapes I heard about and the stabbing, I definitely wasn’t walking by myself,” said Beckley resident Alexandra Mitchem.

The Beckley Police Department patrols the trails regularly. McDaniel said there are no plans to increase patrols or take any other increased security measures. Rather, they hope the public can learn to be cautious to protect themselves.

“The first thing you can do is try to get away,” said McDaniel. “The easiest way to do that is to go the opposite way. Run. [If you witness something,] call 911… Let us handle it.”

McDaniel said at the end of the day, the trail isn’t the problem. Community members should be alert at all times, no matter where they are.

“Whether it’s the Rails-to-Trails here in Beckley or the trails over at the soccer fields, you do have to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

As for Monday’s attack, police have not been able to speak to the victim since his hospitalization. They do not have any leads.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at