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Saratoga assault suspect arrested before boarding flight

Saratoga assault suspect arrested before boarding flight

Man accused of choking woman; was target of large search on back stretch at Race Course
Saratoga assault suspect arrested before boarding flight
Background: Police search for the suspect at the backstretch Wednesday; Inset: Francisco J. Ortega-Hernandez
Photographer: Background: Erica Miller; Inset: Saratoga Police

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City police on Thursday arrested a suspect in the weekend attack on a woman on Phila Street.

Francisco J. Ortega-Hernandez, 26, of Jalisco, Mexico, was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a felony, as well as criminal obstruction of breaking and third-degree stalking, both misdemeanors. 

Police say he spotted the 35-year-old victim in the Caroline Street area Sunday, followed her to Phila Street, then grabbed her around the head and neck, causing minor injury. She yelled for help, at which point Ortega released her and fled, police said.

On Wednesday, a police officer spotted a man who fit the description of the attacker. But at the officer’s approach, the man fled to the backstretch area of Saratoga Race Course, which police subsequently swarmed in an unsuccessful search.

Late Wednesday, investigators identified Ortega-Hernandez as a person of interest in the case; he holds an H2B work visa and was credentialed to work on NYRA property. Initial attempts to find him were unsuccessful, but on Thursday police learned he was at Albany International Airport waiting to board a plane on his way back to Mexico.

Saratoga Springs police worked with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department at the airport, where Ortega was located and arrested around 2 p.m. He was transported back to Saratoga Springs to await indictment.

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