By Kyeland Jackson —
A suspect in the violent sexual assaults near campus was arrested Friday.
First reported by The Courier-Journal, the 16-year-old suspect is charged with two counts of first degree sodomy, two counts of first degree robbery, two counts of kidnapping and a count of second degree arson. He cannot be identified because he’s a juvenile.
Louisville Metro Police are still searching for a second suspect.
University of Louisville Police Department Lt. Col. Kenny Brown answered media questions after the announced arrest. Brown was unaware if the suspect had ties to the university, and said U of L security will remain on high alert.
“What we’ve done is we’ve increased our patrols and we’ve moved our officers up to the northern part of campus,” Brown said.
“We normally have officers assigned to zones. But what we’ve done for the last couple of days, and will continue until this case is solved, is that we will make our runs from that area.”
While police presence is focused and patrols increased, the amount of hired officers will not increase with it.
The first crime involved a non-student, who was carjacked near Third Street and Gaulbert Avenue Sept. 13 before being sexually assaulted and told to leave the area.
The suspects abducted a U of L student outside of the Bellamy apartments Sept. 14 using the first victim’s vehicle. The student was robbed, sexually assaulted and told to leave the area before the suspects set the car on-fire and left the scene. No university cameras captured the incidents.
On Sept. 15, two females were allegedly robbed at gunpoint near Second and Lee Streets. LMPD Spokesperson Dwight Mitchell did not know if the females were students.
Lags in communication have slowed ULPD response. LMPD reported to the U of L student’s assault Wednesday, but ULPD was not informed until the next morning. ULPD was not informed of the first suspect’s Friday arrest until Monday morning. Brown said there is good communication between the departments, but ULPD may streamline its communications in response to the incidents.
“Actually, the communication between ULPD and LMPD is very good. We exchange information all the time,” Brown said. “But any time we have an incident, we always want to sit down and review how the university looks at its communications, and how communications is handled so we can be more effective the next time.”
ULPD’s efforts to increase security include:
- ULPD will be working closely with LMPD exchanging and updating information on the above suspects.
- LMPD will have a heavy presence in the area north of the Belknap Campus.
- ULPD will move and maintain the officers assigned to Belknap to the area in and around the northern part of the campus. Officers will answer calls for service from the area.
- ULPD will utilize marked and unmarked units.
- ULPD has notified affiliated housing to alert their courtesy officers and management teams.
- ULPD with working with the DoS to assist the victim.
Students have been on edge since the crime reports began last week.
A Louisville Cardinal Twitter poll found 60 percent of responders do not feel safe on and around campus after the incidents. Eighteen percent felt safe and 22 percent said they were not concerned about the situation.
“Student safety is our top priority,” U of L Police Chief Wayne Hall said in an statement after the first two reports.
“The U of L Police Department has sent an email to all our students about this issue, including recommendations to help keep them safe. In addition to working with LMPD on this case, we are increasing patrols in the area and have alerted affiliated housing and any associated courtesy officers about these crimes,” Hall said.
Brown detailed some of the safety measures available for students. The Rave alert system, blue light security poles on campus, CardSafety app and the escort service, which shuttled over 7,000 students last year, are services available to promote student safety. But Brown especially emphasized reporting suspicious activity.
“I’d much rather send an officer out, find out that nothing happened than for somebody to ignore something and then we end up making a police report because a crime happened,” Brown said.
ULPD sent recommendations on what students can do to avoid crime:
- Walk with a group of people. If walking to a parking lot, do not the leave the area until everyone is safely in their vehicle.
- Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity.
- Be alert for anything suspicious, especially two or more people just hanging around.
- If you sense something wrong, leave the area immediately.
- Utilize the university shuttle system.
- Utilize the university escort system from dusk to dawn.
- Use the L-Trail when on campus.
- Use the CardGuard app (available at louisville.edu/cardsafe)
- Call ULPD at 852-6111 or 911 for all emergencies.
What to do during and after a crime:
- Observe what the suspect looks like and develop a mental picture so that an accurate description can be given to the police
- Don’t chase or follow the suspect
- Protect the crime scene. Leave everything as it is. Don’t try to clean up or touch any possible evidence.
- Write down a description of the suspect including sex, race, height, weight, build, eye and hair color, scars or tattoos, jewelry, approximate age, and clothing. If possible, note in which direction the suspect fled. Remember, do not chase the suspect.
For Old Louisville residents who do not receive Rave alerts, LMPD offers a similar service. The Louisville Emergency Notification System, LENSAlert, is available to Louisville and Jefferson county residents for free here.
Photo by Kyeland Jackson / The Louisville Cardinal