Arrest made in alleged Dragon Con sexual assault

Atlanta police have arrested a suspect in an alleged sexual assault of a Dragon Con attendee earlier this month at a downtown shopping mall.

“We can confirm an arrest,” Atlanta police spokesman Warren Pickard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

Gary Jefferson Hood was arrested Thursday and booked into the Fulton County Jail on charges of aggravated sexual battery and misdemeanor sexual battery, according to online jail records.

Hood waived his first appearance before a magistrate judge late Friday morning and will remain jailed without bond until his Oct. 9 preliminary hearing in Fulton Superior Court, Fulton sheriff’s spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The arrest was made after police distributed a photo of the suspect that was taken by a friend of the alleged victim.

According to an Atlanta police incident report, the woman told officers she consumed one alcoholic drink Saturday afternoon that her husband mixed for her. At some point, she left the couple’s hotel room and went to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for a Dragon Con panel discussion.

“While at the panel, the victim began to feel hot, dizzy and confused,” police said in the report, which added the woman “has a medical condition that causes similar symptoms and believes that the alcohol exacerbated the symptoms.”

She told police she went to the main level of the hotel “to try to cool down” and was approached by a man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the letters “FBI.” He introduced himself as Gary.

“The victim stated that the suspect continued speaking to her and later led her over to the entrance to the Peachtree Mall,” according to the incident report. “The victim and suspect sat down on a bench overlooking the food court and the suspect began to kiss and fondle her.”

After telling the woman several times to wake up, the man led her to the Marriott Marquis hotel, where she found a friend.

“When the suspect realized that the victim knew the friend, the suspect left the victim with the friend and walked away,” the report said.

That friend told police the woman saw “Gary” and pointed him out as they walked through the hotel. While the woman hid behind a nearby pillar, the friend walked up to the man, “commented on his Dragon Con outfit” and took two photos of him, which she emailed to police.

When investigators went to the place where the attack allegedly occurred, “several security cameras were found that may have [had] footage of the assault,” according to the report.

Dragon Con draws tens of thousands of people to Downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend each year, many in costumes and other paraphernalia celebrating comic books, movies and pop culture.

In an emailed statement, Dragon Con media relations director Don Carroll said it is the convention’s policy not to comment on specific incidents.

“Dragon Con is proud to offer a safe and inclusive convention for its members that is free of harassment or assault of any kind. We work with the Atlanta Police Department all year to develop and install procedures to prevent issues such as these. If and when they occur (we) insure they are handled by the appropriate authorities. APD is on site throughout the convention.”

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