SPOKANE, Wash – Tuesday evening, police say a woman walking in a neighborhood near the Gonzaga University campus was robbed by a man who then tried to kidnap her. She ran to a nearby eatery for help, where the man then threatened the lives of the other customers before being arrested.
Because she's the victim of a crime, police won't say whether the woman involved is a Gonzaga student or not.
Assaults near campus have become more high profile after the attack of a GU student on the Centennial Trail in late August – an attack police say was committed by murder suspect, Avondre Graham.
Public logs for GU Campus Public Safety & Security show that 14 assaults/aggravated assaults were reported to campus police between Jan 1 and Oct 10, 2011. But during that same time frame this year, there have been 26.
While that data shows assaults have nearly doubled, the vast majority of them happen in the community and neighborhood surrounding GU's campus – not on the campus itself.
"It's just another reminder that you have to be vigilant, no matter where you are," John Van Sant with GU Campus Public Safety & Security told KHQ.
To help ensure the safety of students in the area, GU has a 24-hour dispatch line, and 24-hour security escorts available to students who feel unsafe – either on campus, or in the near neighborhood.
Some students on campus told KHQ they are a little rattled after learning of Tuesday's assault.
"If you imagine yourself in that situation, it's definitely scary," said sophomore Sonja Greinacher, who had her car stolen near campus while attending GU.
Her friend, fellow sophomore Shelby Cheslek added that suspicious men in the neighborhood have followed her a few times.
"I looked back and he was following us, and we kept walking away and trying to turn, and he kept staying close by, so we ended up going into a house so we could get away," Cheslek said.
But other students told KHQ they feel perfectly safe.
"You don't have to worry about anyone coming and harassing you, as long as you're generally on campus, but even if you're off campus, you can always call Campo," freshman Angela Crone said, referring to the safety escort service provided by campus police.
Campus police work closely with Spokane Police, and a COPS shop is set up next to campus. They say the crime rate on campus is lower than that of the surrounding neighborhood, but it's a good idea to always keep an eye out and call police any time you feel unsafe or see a crime in progress.
GU also had a Campus Walk previously scheduled for Wednesday evening to look for potential safety issues, including lighting and shrubbery.