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Appalachian’s police chief reminds students to be aware of their surroundings

BOONE—Over the past two months, three Appalachian State University students have been grabbed by an unknown male while they were walking on or near campus.

“We think the assaults may be related because of the assailant’s method of operation,” according to University Police Chief Gunther Doerr, who reminds students to be aware of their surroundings and to not walk alone.

The first incident occurred Feb. 25 off campus when a student walking in a parking lot between Howard Street and King Street was grabbed by a man she did not know who attempted to pull down her pants.

The second incident occurred March 20 at approximately 8:50 p.m. when a female student was walking near Old Library Classroom Building and Smith-Wright Hall. As she passed an unknown man, he attempted to pull down her pants.

The most recent incident occurred April 14 when a female student reported to police that she was grabbed from behind by an unknown male as she walked near the Old Library Classroom Building near Plemmons Student Union around 8:30 p.m.

In all three cases, the assailant was wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt. There were no witnesses to any of the three incidents, Doerr said. In all three cases, the victims were able to resist the attacker and get away.

“It appears the assailant may be hanging out and watching for a time when there are no potential witnesses in the area,” Doerr said. “For that reason, we especially want to remind students to be aware of their surroundings, and to walk with a friend when out at night.”

Doerr also urges students to use the Mountaineer Safe Ride van service if they are unable to walk with a friend and if they are uncomfortable walking across campus alone. The service is available by calling 262-RIDE. The service is available from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

If a student needs an escort after 2 a.m., Doerr says they should call University Police at 262-2150.

Doerr also urges anyone who might have information about the assaults to call University Police at 262-2150 or Watauga County Crimestoppers at 262-4555.

University Police also are investigating two separate allegations of sexual assault by a male acquaintance. One occurred March 23 at 5:30 a.m., and the other occurred April 14 at 2:30 a.m. In both cases, the alleged assaults occurred in the victims’ residence hall rooms.

At Appalachian, information about campus crime is listed on the police department’s Web site at www.police.appstate.edu, and conveyed by e-mail to employees of the university, and via AppalNet to students. AppalNet is a Web-based e-mail, news and announcement program.

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