Police are searching for the man suspected of trying to strangle a UCLA student as she was traveling home from campus, and on Friday announced investigators are looking into whether the same man was responsible for an on-campus attack earlier this week.
The 21-year-old student was attacked about 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 after she exited a bus at Melrose and Normandie avenues. She was walking eastbound on Melrose when she made a right-hand turn on Mariposa Avenue. That’s when, LAPD said, a man grabbed her around the neck from behind.
"The suspect grabbed her from behind and started choking her," said LAPD Officer Christopher No. "And during that struggle, she fell to the ground. Actually, he pushed her to the ground."
The attacker stabbed the woman’s neck with a sharp object and a struggle ensued until the man was scared off by a light from a passing vehicle, No said.
"He ran off in an unknown direction, from there she got up and asked for help," he said.
The woman suffered a three-inch laceration on her neck and was transported to the hospital where she received stitches, officials said.
Police are combing through surveillance video from the bus and a nearby gas station to determine if the man boarded the bus with the victim or if he met her on the bus and followed her.
The attacker in this incident may be linked to an attempted sexual assault that happened on the UCLA campus on Monday when another student narrowly escaped a man who grabbed her from behind and tried to throw her to the ground.
The two attacks are being investigating as separate cases at this point, but the suspect in both crimes has been described as a man about 30 years old, between 130 and 150 pounds wearing a dark hoodie.
"The attacks that have happened have happened on females right now," No said. "Just be aware of your surroundings."
After two students were attacked on campus early Monday morning, UCLA police adjusted their patrols to focus on potential problem areas. One student said the latest incidents are concerning, but overall, she’s confident in her safety.
"I think it does raise concerns but we have a lot of police people patrolling around campus and generally it's a very safe area," said Jingxi Chai.