Reports of suspicious man surface on campus

Corryn Brock and Hannah Shillo, News Editor and Associate News Editor

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A man was reported to have unwantedly slapped two women on their buttocks Monday and Tuesday night, according to an Alert EIU message sent out Wednesday around 6 p.m. 

According to the alert both women described the alleged suspect as a skinny white male, approximately 6 feet tall with glasses and beard. 

Tuesday’s victim said the alleged suspect appeared to be balding and wearing a baggy shirt, cargo shorts and a baseball cap at the time of the incident involving her. 

The incidents were reported to have happened in the 1500 and 1600 blocks of 4th Street between Lincoln and Grant avenues. 

Another woman, who will not be named due to safety concerns, claimed to have had an encounter with the alleged suspect in the X-Lot. 

The woman said she pulled into the parking lot and someone pulled in next to her. 

She said she waited in her car for a little bit and once she got out of her vehicle she heard the man’s door shut as she started walking towards campus. 

The woman said the man then started shouting at her to get her attention but she did not want to turn around.  

She said when she did turn around the man told her he could not see her parking pass and she  responded that she did and where it was as she continued walking as he continued to try to get her attention. 

The woman said once she was around people the man left her alone. 

The woman said she did not report the incident immediately but decided to after her friend sent her a screenshot of a similar incident posted on Snapchat. 

The woman said other students should pay attention to things around them in case they are put in a similar situation. 

“Be completely aware of your surroundings. If you think that something is suspicious either call someone to come meet you where you are or drive somewhere else and park in a different parking lot. Even if you have to walk a little longer don’t put yourself at risk,” the woman said. 

University Police Department Chief Kent Martin said students should listen to what they have been told since they were young. 

“Just the basics of staying in a well-lit area, letting somebody know where you’re going, trying to travel with a buddy particularly if you’re walking after dark and just be aware of your surroundings,” Martin said. “One thing that I see that’s really frustrating is that we tend to get so wrapped up in our electronics or will have earbuds where we can’t hear something that’s going on around us like the sound of someone running towards us or something like that.” 

Martin said students should reach out to the department if they ever feel like they are in danger. 

“Incidents like this thankfully are rare, we’ve got a safe campus and we’re working very hard and very diligently to keep it that way. If anyone is ever uncomfortable or has any qualms about being out and about or any concern about getting where they are going I would encourage them to get ahold of us,” Martin said. “We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If we can help someone get where they’re going safely, that’s the main thing, that’s why we’re here.” 

Amanda Feder, Director of Prevention at the Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service, said it is hard to say how people should react if they are in a situation like those that occurred Monday and Tuesday. 

“We all react very differently in situations that are uncomfortable or traumatizing so like fight, flight or freeze, right?,” Feder said. “I know in the past there have been programs offered for risk reduction which would be like fighting back or yelling out certain things and all of those can be okay if that person is able to do it in that moment.” 

Feder said prevention falls into the community’s hands. 

“If we see somebody being isolated or targeted, stand up and basically perform bystander intervention and make sure they are safe and walk them back to their apartment or to a safe place like the union to get them out of that situation,” Feder said. “I think it really falls on the rest of us and it’s hard to just give individual pointers for people who aren’t being targeted.” 

An incident of a suspicious man in a parking lot in Greek Court was heard being reported over a police scanner around 8 p.m. Wednesday night. 

The responding UPD officer could not comment on whether the incident was related to the other three but said the department was working with the Charleston Police Department to control the situation. 

A bystander training will be held in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union at 3:30 p.m. next Wednesday for those interested in learning how to be active bystander.  

If anyone would like tips on how to help or how to handle situations like the incidents this week they can call the SACIS hotline or email Feder at [email protected]  

In case of emergency call 911 or contact the University Police Department at 581-3212.  

Blue emergency phones are also located around campus for students. 

Anyone with information on the incidents can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-345-8488 or at colescountycrimestoppers.org.  

Corryn Brock and Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]