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Suspect sought after three University of Arizona students grabbed, followed or groped near campus: Police

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

(TUCSON, Ariz.) — Police said Wednesday they are searching for a suspect after three female University of Arizona students recently reported being grabbed, followed, or groped near the Tucson campus.

The incidents were reported within the span of one week, and occurred within a mile of each other, according to the Tucson Police Department.

On Dec. 7, a woman reported an attempted abduction in the area of Eighth Street and North Mountain Avenue around 8 p.m., police said. The victim noticed a vehicle following her as she walked, according to Tucson Police Assistant Chief Christopher Dennison.

“At some point, a male suspect parked the vehicle, got out and grabbed her from behind,” Dennison told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday. “The victim, while being physically restrained, dropped to the ground and started screaming. The suspect released the victim and ran to his vehicle before driving away.”

The victim was uninjured in the incident, police said.

After authorities released information about the attempted abduction, a second victim reported to Tucson police that she was followed by a man in a vehicle around 11 a.m. on Dec. 6 near North Campbell Avenue and East Third Street, police said. The woman was able to safely leave the area, Dennison said.

Both victims provided police with similar suspect and vehicle descriptions, Dennison said.

In the most recent incident, on Monday, the victim told the University of Arizona police department that she had been groped in the area of East Seventh Street and North Vine Avenue, Dennison said. She was uninjured, police said.

“The suspect description and circumstances were similar to the incidents on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7,” Dennison said.

The suspect was described by police as a possibly Hispanic man in his 30s to 40s, between 5’10” and 6′ with a medium to heavy-set build and close buzzcut.

The suspect vehicle was described as a four-door dark-blue passenger car, possibly an early 2000s Toyota Camry or Corolla, with a dented front bumper, tinted windows and an Arizona plate which may be faded or flaking.

“We are actively pursuing both investigative and forensic leads,” Dennison said.

The FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, University of Arizona Police Department, and Oro Valley Police Department are assisting in the investigation, he said.

Dennison said police are exploring creating a sketch of the suspect. He also urged residents to share their doorbell camera videos.

University of Arizona Police Chief Chris Olson said they will have enhanced patrols in the surrounding areas “to provide a higher level of visibility and engagement.”

“What’s important for us is that our community feels a sense of safety,” Olson told reporters Wednesday.

Olson said they are working with the facility management and transportation services at the university “to be vigilant and to report any suspicious vehicles or people.” He advised against walking alone, especially during dark hours, and said students can call the University of Arizona Police Department to request an escort if needed.

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