South Alabama sexual assault still under investigation

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - An alleged sexual assault that was initiated on the campus of the University of South Alabama Wednesday morning, April 23, is still under investigation by the university police department.

Chief Zeke Aull told FOX10 News on Thursday surveillance video is being reviewed to help piece together what exactly happened in the north parking lot behind the University’s chemistry building.The alleged suspect, according to USAPD, took the victim to the Student Health parking lot where he sexually assaulted her, then to Municipal (Langan) Park where he stole some personal items.

“USA does have approximately over 500 cameras and of course no one can monitor 500 cameras or watch 500 cameras at any time. But we do record all those cameras and if we have a problem then we reference and we go back and look at those recordings,” said Chief Aull.

The victim told USAPD she was taken from her car north of the Chemistry building, sexually assaulted in the student health parking lot, then taken to Municipal Park where she was robbed then brought back to campus.

“At this time, we know nothing more about the suspect other than what we released yesterday,” said Chief Aull.

Chief Aull said his department is doing everything possible to piece this puzzle together…to find out who sexually assaulted a woman on Wednesday morning.

Chief Aull gave FOX10 News a look inside the department’s control center…with more than 500 security cameras campus-wide. He said all are not monitored simply because there are too many and not enough manpower to do so. However, they are all in a recording mode to capture most anything that happens on campus both inside and outside of buildings.

Wednesday’s assault started on campus but then continued off campus, at nearby Municipal Park, property of the City of Mobile.

“USA is a smaller police force and we do investigate our own crimes but we understand that there are times that we reach out to other agencies, other agencies in our area and we have done that. And they are providing assistance and will continue to do that as needed,” said Chief Aull.

Students and faculty were told about the incident by e-mail Wednesday morning, four hours after the alleged attack happened.

“When university police are called to the scene of something or they are made aware of something then once they have enough information, they will share it with several university officials,” said Interim Director of Public Relations Bob Lowry.

At that point, it is Lowry’s job to get the message out to students and faculty.

“Occasionally, it may take longer than some folks would like, but we want to make sure that information that we sent out is accurate,” said Lowry.

Lowry said that is because they have to check and double check their sources and facts to make sure they do not report anything incorrectly when dealing with a campus the size of South Alabama.

Students at South Alabama are torn when it comes to safety. Some say more police presence is needed. Others feel just fine.

Chief Aull told FOX10 News, when officers are out on patrol, they interact with students but cannot be everywhere at once. Ultimately, the students need to help be the eyes and ears of the USAPD. If they see something, say something.

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