SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Students on the Western New England University campus are being urged to be on alert after a man found his way into a student’s room overnight.
In an alert sent out the campus community, WNE Police Chief Adam Woodrow says that around 2:50 a.m. Thursday, a female student awoke to find an unknown man in her Plymouth Hall room, going through her wallet.
The victim told officers that the man had a conversation with her, during which Woodrow says the man asking the student if she wanted to have sex with him.
Woodrow adds that no sexual assault took place, but there was “non-consensual touching in the form of an embrace.”
“She did not know the person, or didn’t recognize the person and so eventually the individual did leave,” WNEU Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs Barbara Moffat said.
It was also discovered that in this same incident, the man entered an adjoining suite and took another resident’s cell phone.
Investigators found that it appears the man got into the campus apartments through either the front door or an unlocked sliding door. He then reportedly got into the individual interior apartments through unlocked bedroom doors.
“I couldn’t even imagine waking up and just seeing someone in my room looking through my stuff, like I’d be terrified,” student Alyssa McNair said.
“Since our campus is so secluded and we have so many security features that you never think it’s going to happen to us so when you hear something like that it like really kind of scares everybody,” student PJ Treveloni said.
Police are reviewing surveillance tape from the area and a meeting of Plymouth Hall residents is set to be held Thursday afternoon.
The school says an incident response plan immediately kicked in as soon as the incident was reported to campus police, which includes e-mails to students, extra police patrols, and safety reminders.
“It’s something where everyone has to keep their eyes and ears open and be aware of their surroundings and make sure doors are locked and not propped open,” Moffat said.
The incident never turned violent and the girl wasn’t hurt. Still, her classmates say while police work on the case, they will look out for each other.
“I think it’s definitely something that it should be talked about,” McNair said.
“Definitely not walking alone and definitely going to make sure to lock my doors every time I leave and double check just to be sure,” Treveloni said.
The suspect is described as a black male, about 5′ 10″ tall, and what Woodrow describes as a small afro-type haircut. He was last seen wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and carrying a black and white backpack.
If anyone on the WNE campus sees something suspicious, you are asked to call university police at (413) 782-1411 immediately.
Students are also being reminded to make sure their e2campus account is up-to-date to ensure they receive campus alerts.
Students are also being asked to take some safety precautions to prevent unwanted entry and theft, including:
- Always lock doors and windows
- Avoid propping doors open
- Report lock or window problems for immediate repair using the work order system
- Don’t leave valuables laying around in open view