Attempted Kidnapping Raises Safety Concerns in West Campus
By Cristina Folsom
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — An attempted kidnapping in West Campus is raising safety concerns among the community.
Officers from the Austin Police Department and the University of Texas Police Department responded to an emergency call at the 2700 block of Nueces St. early in the morning of Oct. 30. Investigators said the victim was able to escape. She was initially identified by investigators as being affiliated with the university, followed by later reports indicating the woman is a student.
Police released a composite sketch of the suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his late to 20s to early 30s, 5’7″ to 5’9″ tall, with a muscular build and round face, along with a surveillance photo of the man in a burnt orange hoodie and a black sedan.
Joell McNew, the president of the nonprofit student safety advocacy organization SafeHorns, said she is working with University Area Partners to expand private security in West Campus.
“It was horrifying,” McNew said in response to the incident.
“In this situation with the kidnapping, if we had cameras in the area, would this person already be arrested and off our street?”
She said SafeHorns is working on adding more blue light emergency call boxes and lighting fixtures around campus.
The attempted kidnapping struck a chord with third year psychology student Kiyah Joseph. She lives in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house on the same block.
“To walk around having that fear that you or someone else that you’re close to could have something happen to them at any second is just so scary,” Joseph said.
She said she always carries pepper spray and walks with a group.
Stephanie Jacksis, UTPD’s Director of Strategic and Executive Communications for the Office of Campus Security, said she advises others to take similar precautions, as well as only using one earbud if listening to music while walking, watching drinks for potential tampering and calling 911 if they feel unsafe.
SafeHorns members work with UT organization Texas Sunshines to offer self defense courses taught by martial arts master Janell Smith. There will be a free class on Friday, Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m., at Dobie Twenty21.