Gunman abducts student near dorm

The female was abducted Thursday morning but was later returned to the University area.

Stephanie Kudrle

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An unidentified man abducted a University student at gunpoint outside Territorial Hall early Wednesday morning but later returned her to the University area.

The female was taken to an off-campus location at approximately 7:45 a.m., sexually assaulted and brought back to the University area, police officials said.

The suspect remains at large.

University police Capt. Steve Johnson said the case is under investigation, but he would not comment further.

Greg Hestness, University assistant vice president for public safety, would not say if the woman lived in the residence hall, only that she was walking outside Territorial Hall.

He also said the woman did not know her abductor, and he said officials have no way to connect the suspect to the residence hall.

“I don’t know of another incident quite like this,” Hestness said. “There are a lot of opportunists looking for women, but it’s rare for the city of Minneapolis and rare for campus.”

Wachen Anderson, judicial affairs coordinator for Housing and Residential Life, sent an e-mail Thursday to all staff and students in the residence halls alerting them to the incident and asking students to share anything they know regarding the incident.

Johnson said the woman did nothing wrong and the abduction appeared to be a random incident, which left some University students feeling uneasy.

“I can basically look out my window and see where it happened,” said first-year University student Carly Natvig, who lives in Centennial Hall. “I just don’t feel safe anymore.”

Hestness said he approved a University-wide e-mail Wednesday and hoped it would go out that day, but many students still had not received the e-mail late Thursday.

Hestness said residence hall occupants were alerted earlier because they were closer to the area.

He said “a good, thorough investigation” is under way and said police have a distinct description of the vehicle, which he hopes will help identify the abductor quickly.

“The reason we’re getting so aggressive on this is that we’re concerned this is a stranger, and we don’t want to wait and see until we have two, three more cases to act,” Hestness said.

Natvig said she and her friends are still concerned about their daily safety.

“My friend goes to the gym every morning at 7 a.m., and she’s like, ‘I can’t do that anymore,’ ” Natvig said.

Hestness said he was unsure whether University or Minneapolis police would increase patrols in the area.

Territorial Hall is occupied by first-year students.

Kole Hader, a first-year University student, said the abduction adds to an already rocky start to the school year.

“First the fire, then the abduction. … It’s a lot for your first month at school,” Hader said.

The suspect was described as a white male in his early 20s with blond hair, a gray sweatshirt and dark-colored wind pants. He was driving a black SUV with no rear license plate.

Hestness said people with any information about the suspect or the car should immediately contact police at (612) 624-2677.

SAFETY TIPS
The University Police Department and Housing and Residential Life have identified some tips to help students stay safe:

ï Always be aware of your surroundings.
ï Stay in well-lit areas.
ï If you go out at night, use the University’s escort service or walk in groups.
ï Carry a cell phone and pepper spray.
ï If you live in a residence hall or apartment complex, do not let strangers into the building.