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Idaho man arrested for assaulting woman in downtown Missoula

Idaho man arrested for assaulting woman in downtown Missoula

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A 28-year-old Idaho man is in police custody after allegedly grabbing a Missoula woman and pulling her to the ground downtown Tuesday night.

Missoula Police Department public information officer Travis Welsh said William Ashley Sandel will be charged with aggravated assault. He is being held on $50,000 bail and is expected to appear in Missoula County Justice Court on Thursday.

The apparently random attack occurred on the 100 block of North Higgins Avenue about 10:30 p.m.

“He pulled her to the ground and she was screaming and attempting to free herself,” Welsh said. “Then she heard lots of voices from people that were intervening on her behalf. He released her and ran away.”

The intervening witnesses followed Sandel after he fled and hid under the Higgins Avenue Bridge. Welsh said they were able to point him out to responding police officers, who took Sandel into custody.

Sandel didn’t know his victim, but when he first grabbed the woman’s arms, she thought he may have been a friend, Welsh said.

It’s unknown if Sandel was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack.

Reporter Kathryn Haake can be reached at 523-5268 or at

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