Student sexually assaulted by police impersonator

A man claiming to be a police officer attacked a student early Sunday morning, police say.

by Nicholas Studenski

A University of Minnesota student was sexually assaulted by a man impersonating a police officer early Sunday morning, according to an email alert sent to students, faculty and staff by University police Chief Greg Hestness on Sunday night.

The student was walking alone at about 2:15 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of 15th Avenue Southeast and Eighth Street Southeast in Marcy-Holmes when she was approached by a black SUV, the alert said.

The man driving the SUV appeared to be a police officer, said Minneapolis police Cmdr. Bruce Folkens of the Special Crimes Investigations Division. The man slowed the car to talk to the student, and warned her against walking alone.

The suspect then offered the student a ride. When she got in, he locked the doors and drove her somewhere west of Interstate 35-W and sexually assaulted her, the alert said.

Police didn’t release details on how she got away, but said she “quickly” contacted police. Folkens said at a press conference Monday that police have “several leads” but haven’t made any arrests yet.

The suspect is described as a young black man with a medium build, short hair or a shaved head and a “neatly trimmed chin-strap beard.” He was wearing a dark jacket with a badge, dark pants and a belt resembling the kind a police officer would wear, the alert said.

A similar incident occurred in Fridley at around 1 p.m. on Saturday. The victim in that incident told police she was walking to her car alone when a man allegedly drove up, identified himself as a police officer before kidnapping and sexually assaulting her, the Associated Press reported. Police believe the two incidents may be related.

Sunday’s sexual assault is the second for which University police have sent an alert to students, faculty and staff this semester. The first incident took place in the early hours of the morning near Van Cleve Park in Southeast Como last month.

In that case, three men approached the victim while she was walking home alone. One of the suspects allegedly hit her and then sexually assaulted her while the other two acted as lookouts.

University police have recently increased the number of patrols in response to an uptick in violent crimes on and around campus, according to an email Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock sent to students, faculty and staff on Monday.

University and Minneapolis police are working together to follow several leads. Police are asking anyone with information about this most recent case to call the Minneapolis tip line at 612-692-8477.


–The Associated Press contributed to this story.