BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- A female Western Washington University student said a man groped her on campus early Tuesday -- the latest in a series of assaults targeting women in the area.
Patrols have increased on some parts of campus after the latest incident.
The student says she was walking along High Street in between Wilson Library and Nash Hall when the attack happened. When she got to a crosswalk, she says, a man ran up behind her and groped her breasts. She elbowed him and the groper ran off.
“I don’t know how you catch them; it seems like a quick crime, not a lot of evidence left behind,” WWU instructor Brad McCoy said.
The female student didn’t get a look at the groper, making it hard for police to know who they are looking for.
“It’s actually decently unsettling when you see anybody on campus, just because you don't know, are you just walking your dog, are you going to come up to me or are you behind a bush” student Alesha Allard said.
This is not the first time students have had to deal with something like this.
Since July, Bellingham Police have received more than a dozen reports of someone peering through windows. Sometimes the suspect taps on the glass and exposes or pleasures himself.
Most of the cases are happening off campus and Allard said it happened to her friend.
“It definitely happened, he tapped on her window and tried to open it,” Allard said.
Allard is wondering if the voyeur is also now the groper.
“People tend to follow a pattern and when they don’t get caught it gets worse,” Allard said.
Q13 News asked University Police if it could be the same suspect now escalating his attacks.
“I am not going to say it couldn’t be related, but, quite honestly, it doesn’t appear to be related,” Police Chief Darin Rasmussen said.
Police are asking students to be aware of their surroundings, walk in pairs or ask for help.
“We currently provide safety escorts across campus with our student employees, our Green Coats,” Rasmussen said.
Bellingham Police are helping campus police and also trying to figure out if the cases are related.
The department is encouraging any victims to report crimes immediately.