UMCP students told to stay alert Police get 'promising' tips in attacks on 3 women

March 21, 1998|By Sheila Hotchkin | Sheila Hotchkin,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Campus police at the University of Maryland, College Park have received several leads in recent attacks on female students after releasing a preliminary sketch of an alleged assailant Thursday.

Cpl. Mary Brock, campus police spokeswoman, estimated that 100 people called after police distributed the sketch, based on a description from the most recent victim. Police have several "promising" leads from those tips, which came from the public and police in adjoining jurisdictions, she said.

Three students were assaulted within a little more than a week at the state's flagship campus. The first attack occurred just after midnight March 12, when a 28-year-old graduate student was thrown to the ground and kicked in the face after parking her car near graduate housing.

A 20-year-old freshman told police that a man grabbed her two nights later as she walked behind Fraternity Row, struck her several times and raped her between two parked cars.

In the most recent incident, early Wednesday morning, a 51-year-old graduate student reported that she was accosted in the parking lot behind Memorial Chapel just after midnight.

After the man touched her back and told her to get in her car, she sprayed him with pepper spray and ran to a nearby phone, where she called police.

No suspects have been apprehended, Brock said yesterday.

She also questioned a statement made by a campus security official, which appeared in yesterday's Sun, that police were looking for two suspects. Brock said police do not know how many suspects they are seeking.

After students finished classes yesterday, most left for their weeklong spring break.

Kristy Wright, a student government vice president, said the students remaining on campus for the break are worried about their safety on the nearly deserted campus and whether police ** will cut back patrols.

Brock said police do not plan to reduce coverage and are working with the campus Department of Resident Life to determine where students are living during the break so that they can concentrate patrols in those locations.

The high-rises where underclassmen live will close during the break, but the dorms on the southern half of campus and the campus-operated apartments across U.S. 1 will remain open.

The police presence on campus during the break is not in response to the assaults, Brock said. "We had decided originally that we weren't going to [reduce patrols], and then this happened," she said.

Although many of the students who operate the campus escort service will be gone for break, Brock said the department's officers will continue the program.

A shuttle bus and the Call-a-Ride service will shut down for break, said Anthony Cole, who works in the shuttle program.

Carolyn Mitchell, a junior who will remain in her campus suite, said the attacks served as a warning to take precautions.

"I don't plan to be roaming around," she said. "If I'm going to go somewhere, it'll be a direct route."

A message was sent yesterday by a campus service desk to university suites and apartments. The voice mail urged students to keep their doors locked, to never walk alone and to plan routes, calling their destination to be sure someone is waiting for them.

Pub Date: 3/21/98

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