Attempted assaults under investigation

By Angelina Cole

University Police officers are investigating two attempted sexual assaults that occurred in the campus area early Wednesday morning.

Officers responded to a report of attempted assault on the sidewalk between Altgeld Hall, 1409 W. Green St., and the Henry Administration Building, 506 S. Wright St.

According to a report, the 19-year-old victim was walking east on the sidewalk toward the Quad at about 1:30 a.m. when she was approached by a stranger who grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into the bushes, striking her in the face with his fist. The victim fought off the offender by kicking him in the groin numerous times, causing him to flee the area.

The offender was last seen running toward the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., and was described as a Hispanic male, 19 or 20 years old, of thin build, 5 feet 6 inches tall, wearing a white T-shirt and baggy jeans.

Officers responded after the victim made her report at 2:32 a.m. The victim sustained a black eye, swollen nose and scratch on her arm, according to a report issued by the department.

Champaign Police officers responded to another report of assault at 2:19 a.m. in the 300 block of East Daniel Street. The victim was in an alley walking toward Third Street when a stranger approached her and struck her over the head, according to a report. The victim struggled with the offender, biting him, kicking him in the crotch and striking his head. The victim suffered a head injury and a cut.

The offender was last seen traveling on foot westbound in the 300 block of East Daniel Street and is described as a black male in his early 20s, 5 feet 4 inches tall, of average build, with short well-groomed hair and light facial hair. The offender was wearing dark jeans, a yellow jacket and a T-shirt.

“We encourage everyone to report suspicious activity,” said Roy Acree, University police lieutenant. “If you see someone similar to these descriptions, call 911.”

Acree encourages all students to follow sound crime prevention habits when walking on campus alone or late at night. These include not walking while talking on cell phones or with headphones on, walking with others, using well-lit areas and utilizing the bus system and SafeRides.

“If you see someone matching the suspects’ description, we need to know about it,” Acree said. “Officers need to be called.”

Acree also encouraged students to use the emergency phones, or “Ephones” on campus if they see someone matching these descriptions or if they see suspicious activity.

“Take advantage of the Ephones,” Acree said. “Get on an Ephone and have an officer come and check out the situation. Identify the person as much as possible.”

Jeff Christensen, assistant chief of University police, said the department did not know whether these two incidents were connected Wednesday afternoon. Although the occurrences are similar, the two descriptions are different, he said.

“We need to watch out for ourselves and others,” Christensen said. “Avoid dark areas, be alert and call in suspicious activity if something doesn’t feel right.”

A mass e-mail was sent Wednesday informing community members about the attempted assaults.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to call University Police at 333-1216 or the Champaign Police Department at 351-4545. People can also call Champaign County Crimestoppers at 373-8477.

“We need to do what we can to catch these perpetrators and help people feel safe and secure on campus,” Christensen said.

Ryan Davis contributed to this report