On Monday, Aug. 30, a UMW student was jogging downtown when she was approached by an armed male cyclist, according to a campus crime alert sent out Tuesday afternoon.
The 20-year-old student left the scene unharmed and the Fredericksburg police are actively investigating the incident, according to Fredericksburg Police Department Public Information Officer Natatia Bledsoe.
“We have assigned this case to a detective,” Bledsoe said. “We are aggressively pursuing any information we receive.”
According to the crime alert, the jogger noticed a bicyclist following her while she was near William and Sophia streets. When she reached the intersection of Sophia and Charlotte streets, the male approached her asking if she knew where Bragg Hill is located.
After replying “no,” she directed him to a nearby coffee shop for directions. He proceeded to reach into the black drawstring bag he was carrying and pulled out a handgun, according to the alert.
The jogger ran up Charlotte Street yelling, “He has a gun,” which caught the attention of several males who were standing near the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center on Caroline Street. The males proceeded to chase the suspect, who was last seen riding toward the Chatham Bridge, according to the alert.
The alert informed students that the police searched the area, but were unable to find the suspect or the “Good Samaritans” who chased him away.
“We’re hoping they’ll come forward,” Bledsoe said of the Samaritans. “Any details are really helpful.”
In light of the incident, Bledsoe encourages students to be aware of their surroundings, and not to use iPods or other music players to the extent that hearing is restricted.
Bledsoe also said that the police department doesn’t recommend carrying defense tools such as mace, but instead recommends wearing a whistle, which can alert bystanders and scare the potential attacker away.
Despite the crime, Bledsoe said that generally speaking, Fredericksburg is a secure area.
“I think Mary Washington and the surrounding communities are very safe,” Bledsoe said.
She said the majority of crimes that occur in Fredericksburg happen between people who know each other and crime between strangers “just doesn’t happen that often.”
Photo by Anne Elder/Bullet