Police urge caution after Urbana attack

Police urge caution after Urbana attack

URBANA — As the search continues for a man who attacked a University of Illinois student in her home early Saturday, police urged residents to lock up and be on the lookout.

"Call us immediately," Urbana police Lt. Bryant Seraphin pleaded, "even on things that might seem like a low-level prowler or a harmless peeping Tom. We think that's how this guy is moving around and acting."

Seraphin said Monday that authorities were still looking for the man who pistol-whipped a 23-year-old woman in the head and face around 4 a.m. on UI graduation day.

Police believe the attack is related to another incident that happened in the same 400 block of South Busey Avenue about 90 minutes earlier.

At about 2:30 a.m., police say, a 21-year-old woman opened the blinds of her bathroom window after hearing a voice outside. She saw a man, who raised a silver handgun and tapped the window with it. The prowler took off after she ran for help.

Witnesses in that incident described the suspect as a black man wearing a light-colored — perhaps yellow — sweatshirt and jeans.

The second victim reported seeing a black man, who was less than 6 feet tall and wearing a yellow shirt, standing in her bedroom when she was awakened. Seraphin said the woman, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 130 pounds, did not recognize her attacker and was certain he had a handgun.

Believing she was about to be sexually assaulted after he tried to turn her on to her belly, the woman punched, kicked and fought off the man for several minutes, Seraphin said. She escaped and ran into the hallway, where a roommate found her and dragged her into another bedroom. They locked the door and he left, Seraphin said.

Police believe he entered through the victim's bedroom window, which was found open with the screen removed.

Monday, Seraphin emphasized extreme caution.

Don't walk around Campustown alone late at night, he advised.

Don't go for a jog with earbuds crammed in your ears.

Don't think twice about calling 911.

"I hate to tell people this when there's nice spring weather but make sure your windows and doors are locked," Seraphin said. "Close your blinds, as this suspect seems to be walking around, looking into windows in an attempt to find targets."

Anyone with information on possible suspects is asked to dial 911 or call Urbana police at 217-384-2320. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Crimestoppers at 217-373-8477, online at http://www.373tips.com or by cellphone text message by sending CCTIP plus the information to CRIMES (274637).

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