OAKLAND -- A woman narrowly escaped a kidnapper who tried to abduct her near Lake Merritt on New Year's Day and police are asking the public for help in locating her assailant.

Police say that about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, a 19-year-old woman was walking along the 200 block of 17th Street when she was approached by an unknown man, who had appeared from between two parked cars.

The man grabbed the woman by wrapping both of his arms around her, threatened that he had a gun and began dragging her down the sidewalk, police said.

At one point the pair fell to the ground, the woman was released and she was able to subsequently run away.

The man fled the area before the police arrived at the scene.

Police said the suspect is a black man, mid 20s to early 30s, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall, 180 pounds with a medium complexion. He wore a gray hooded parka that covered his head, dark pants and smelled like cigarettes.

Oakland Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case. Anyone with information is asked to call 510-238-3641 or the Tip Line at 510- 637-0298.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.