Belvidere woman recounts harrowing story of being stalked by man in car

Local News

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Two Belvidere women say a man began following them in his car while they walked in a park, and drove off the road and into the grass to chase them.

Areliz Zavala said she is thankful for a witness to the incident who came to her rescue.

“I just didn’t know how to get out of that situation, us being on foot and him being in the car,” she said.

Zavala and her friend, along with her friend’s 1-year-old son, were walking in a park when a suspect in a gold car began following them.

“He was going to get us somehow. I don’t know if he wanted to run us over, kidnap us…” Zavala said. “That’s when my friend said, ‘Look, he’s on the sidewalk! Cross the road and let’s just go!'”

Zavala said the women ran to a bridge where the car wouldn’t be able to cross.

“It bought us just enough time for my friend to call the cops, and for me to decide which was is the fastest out of [there], where to hide,” she remembered.

Just in time, Zavala said a couple who had witnessed the event came to their rescue.

“They actually stayed with us until we called someone to come pick us up,” she said.

As the suspect left the park, police were arriving, Zavala said. “The cops turned around and, I guess, that’s when the chase started.”

A witness recorded the following car pursuit and arrest. Justin Baumann, 28, is being held on charges of aggravated battery to a peace officer, driving under the influence, and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, according to Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody.

“I was scared. I’ve heard stories about trafficking. I was really concerned for my son,” Zavala said.

Zavala said she had never seen Baumann prior to the incident.

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