Groping incidents at UNM have students on edge

Posted at: 02/05/2013 7:15 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Two separate groping cases within a week on UNM's campus have school police stepping up security and students are wondering when it is going to stop.

Students told KOB Eyewitness News 4 they are fearful it could happen again, anywhere, at any time.

On any given weekday, UNM's campus is packed with students rushing to and from class.  It is hard to envision a more deserted look after dark but that is what the Castetter Hall area may have looked like when police said a man started following a woman.

UNMPD said the student was heading to a bus stop along Central around 9:30 Monday night when a man reached out and grabbed her below the waist.  She screamed and got away.

A text alert and email was sent out to students.

"We were fairly confident he was no longer on campus but we wanted to advise the students this occurred so they could take proper precautions," Lt. Robert Haarhues said.

This is the second attack within a week.  Police said the woman was jogging near the tennis courts on Johnson field when two men grabbed and groped her under her shirt.

"The chief's been here for, I don't know, 15 years, she can't even remember a case that's been like this," Haarhues said.

Some students said it makes them feel uneasy, while others said they would be more fearful at night.

"Frankly I don't feel threatened at all in the day because I think it's more safe, there are more people here, but it would be very concerning at night," Susan Gustafson said. 

KOB saw officers out patrolling campus Tuesday afternoon.  Police will escort students if they ask.  Additionally, there is a blue light phone system throughout campus.  These are all among tools students are encouraged to use now more than ever but some said the reality is most students are not.

UNM police released two composite sketches of who the men they believe were involved in the groping case from last week.  They are hoping someone will identify these men.

As for the case Monday night, as of Tuesday afternoon UNMPD said they were still in the process of interviewing the girl.  None of the men involved are believed to be students at UNM.