COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Several women are being more careful following a safety alert issued by Ohio State University after two women said they were sexually assaulted just hours apart near the campus.
One student told police she was walking her dog in an alley near the OSU campus when she was attacked during the morning hours.
Several women in the area said they weren’t too surprised this happened in the area, but now, they are staying alert.
“Being a woman on a campus this big is always kind of scary,” said Haley Reedy.
OSU is issuing a neighborhood safety notice since both sexual assaults were reported near campus.
“I saw it and it kind of freaked me out,” said Reedy.
Police said the first attack happened at approximately 4:30 Sunday morning.
It happened when a woman was sleeping in her car behind a home on East 16th Avenue, which is when police said a man got into her car, then started touching her inappropriately.
The woman then ran, as did the suspect.
“It’s shocking to hear, but I feel like this stuff happens,” said student Madeline Malynn.
Then, around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, a student was walking her dog when she told police a man groped her and when she screamed, the suspect ran off. The incident took place in an alley near East 11th Avenue.
“It’s terrifying,” student Beverly Liu said. “I never walk anywhere by myself. I always have to be with somebody.”
Both victims described their attacker as a white man in his mid to upper 30s with long hair.
The women also told police the suspect was wearing American flag-themed shorts.
Police believe the same suspect could be involved with both incidents.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was the same person,” Reedy said.
Moving forward, students said they are taking steps to make sure something similar doesn’t happen to them.
“Make sure you’re always with somebody and be aware of your surroundings when you’re walking,” Liu said. “It’s important not to be on your phones the whole time. Pay attention to what’s around you.”
Police are investigating and will have extra patrols in the area.
Anyone with information on these attacks is asked to call Columbus police.