A 21-year-old woman escaped a man who held her at knifepoint near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus early Saturday morning.
The woman was approached from behind in the 500 block of North Lake Street about 4 a.m. Saturday.
Police said a stranger held a knife to her neck and ordered the woman to walk with him.
The attacker led the woman to an area behind the Memorial Union Terrace, down toward the Hoofer Sailing Club Boathouse.
"At some point, he trips a little bit on something down there, giving her an opportunity to break and run. She runs and summons help," Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.
DeSpain said Madison police and UW-Madison police arrived at the scene and set up a perimeter to search for the suspect.
"The suspect is spotted and takes off running. Officers are able to track him down and he is arrested behind some homes in the West Mifflin Street area," said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.
Police said a knife was found in the area where they arrested the suspect.
"Certainly (the victim) had an opportunity and she acted quickly and was very fortunate that she was able to get away from this person," DeSpain said. "We don't know what his true motive was at this point, but certainly sexual assault is a possibility."
Police said they arrested Oscar M. Aguilar-Ruvalcaba, 21, of Madison, on charges of second-degree reckless endangerment, false imprisonment, use of a dangerous weapon, intimidation of a victim and disorderly conduct.
Police said there are some similarities between this incident and other assaults downtown, and they are investigating whether Aguilar-Ruvalcaba may have been involved in other assaults.
"We've had a couple of assaults in the downtown area, going back into the summer of last year, where we had women who were followed by a perpetrator who tried to assault them," DeSpain said. "Whether or not this case is connected to those cases that we've had in the past year, it's too early to say that, but certainly there are some similarities and we'll be taking a look at this person to see if we might be able to connect him to some of those other crimes."
Madison police said they urge people not to walk alone in the downtown area in the early morning hours.
"It's really very dangerous," DeSpain said. "We want to emphasize the overall message of not walking alone, particularly in the early morning hours, whether you're a male or a female."