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Students on alert after attack on campus

September 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Students are on high alert at a local college campus following an attempted sexual assault.Students Katie Tyler and Ali Pfau now walk together as they go to the campus parking lot. After hearing the news of the latest attack they did not feel comfortable walking alone.

"I put my keys in my hand and I hold them like that just in case I have to stab someone. I am being more cautious and looking around instead of looking at the ground," said Tyler.

"I am definitely being more careful. I do not think I am going to take a night class here. Going during the day is a better idea," said Pfau.

Police at El Camino College in Torrance say an 18-year-old female student was attacked in a campus parking garage Friday night. The woman told police she was wearing headphones and didn't hear the attacker come up behind her.

Police say she was walking to her car when the attacker grabbed her from behind and covered her mouth. She screamed and fought back, and her attacker ran off. The woman says it happened so quickly that she couldn't get a good look at her assailant.

"She doesn't know where he went. She said that he ran off. She could not provide us with anything. She got in her car and then she drove off," said Chief Michael Trevis from the El Camino College Police Department.

It's the third such attack at the school in less than a year. Students say they've remained vigilant since a sexual assault back in May and another one last November.

A 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on campus on May 23. Another woman was sexually assaulted in the same area in November.

Police released a composite sketch of one suspect after the May attack. He has dimples and some distinctive acne.

Investigators say the three attacks are unrelated. The suspects in all of the cases are still at large.

Officials have now posted flyers around campus urging students to call if they want to ride a shuttle and not walk alone.

"I do not walk around with my iPod on. When I get out of class usually I have my keys in my hand ready to open my car door. I am usually aware of my surroundings," said student, Natalie Tabor.

The campus is setting up a sophisticated surveillance camera system. They already have nine cameras positioned around the campus. And with just one click officers can check specific areas.

Unfortunately cameras are not set up in this particular parking lot.

"We have surveillance cameras set up in probably one-third of the campus, almost half. We are on our way to finish off the other half of the campus," said Chief Trevis.

Now there's a warning out to women to be on watch.

"Most the girls, like my friends, they freak out kind of," said Jihyun Oh, a student at El Camino College. "And I'm scared."

"It sounds really scary," said Lijun Wang, a teacher at El Camino. "I think something has to be done to, you know reinforce, you know, make it better."

Anyone with information is asked to call the El Camino College Campus Police at (310) 660-3100.

 

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