The University of Arizona is enveloped in a cloud of fear and uncertainty as three female students have been subjected to groping, stalking, and near-abduction incidents within a chillingly close proximity to each other. Tucson police are on high alert, scouring the area for a suspect described as a heavy-set Hispanic man, sporting a buzz-cut and an imposing figure of around 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet tall.
The latest and most brazen of these attacks occurred late Monday night, in an unsettling encounter that Assistant Police Chief Christopher Dennison detailed in a Wednesday press conference. In a terrifying scenario, the assailant grabbed a woman from behind, fondled her over her clothing, and attempted to abduct her. The victim’s screams and quick thinking to drop to the ground ultimately led to her escape as the suspect hastily retreated to his vehicle.
This harrowing incident follows two eerily similar reports from other female students, painting a picture of a potential serial predator at large. The women described being followed by a man in a distinctive purple or dark-blue car, thought to be an early 2000s model Toyota Camry or Corolla, with notable features like a dented front bumper, tinted windows, and a deteriorating Arizona license plate.
The first two incidents, which occurred on Dec. 6 and 7, saw the man emerging from his vehicle and grabbing the students from behind, only to flee when they screamed. These alarming events all took place within a one-mile radius of the University of Arizona campus, igniting widespread concern among the student body and faculty.
In response to this string of disturbing events, university officials have ramped up security measures around the campus. Chief Chris Olson of the University of Arizona Police Department announced an enhancement in patrol capabilities, involving police officers, safety aides, and student community service officers, in a concerted effort to provide heightened visibility and engagement.
As the investigation intensifies, with assistance from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and local police departments, Denninson has called on the public to maintain vigilance and report any suspicious activities. With a community on edge and a predator still at large, the race is on to ensure the safety and security of the University of Arizona students and bring the perpetrator to justice.