University of Florida Boosts Campus Security After String of Assaults

Four women have been assaulted in recent weeks, police said.

— -- The University of Florida has stepped up campus security and released surveillance video of a possible suspect after a fourth woman was assaulted in recent weeks.

The latest incident was reported Sunday, when a woman was tackled from behind near the campus library’s parking lot. She managed to fight off the assailant and run away.

Police say the string of assaults started at about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 30, when a 21-year-old woman told police she was beaten and almost raped by an unknown man on the Gainesville campus.

A second incident was reported hours later, at 2 a.m. Aug. 31, with a victim dragged into a wooded area before witnesses were able to chase the man away.

A third woman was approached Friday by an unidentified man outside of the school library. University of Florida Police Department Maj. Brad Barber said the woman in the third incident fought back.

“The individual came up from behind her, grabbed her, they had a brief conversation, at which point she then literally punched him in the face and the suspect left on foot,” Barber said.

Police said the four victims all describe the man as white, in his late 20s or early 30s, about 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 and weighing about 250 pounds. Police aren’t sure whether Sunday’s incident is related to the others.

Students on campus now wonder if they can defend themselves.

“I think that I could defend myself,” one student said, “but I think if I was put in this situation I would be really scared.”