In a press conference at noon, University RCMP and officials at the University of British Columbia have confirmed a sixth sexual assault over the weekend and have linked the attacks to the same suspect.
The BC RCMP Major Crimes Section has taken conduct of the UBC sex assault files that were reported to the RCMP University Detachment over the past few months.
The sixth and most recent incident was reported to police on Sunday, October 27 where a young woman reported she was attacked while walking alone from Gage Hall on Student Union Boulevard prior to 1:30 a.m. She noticed a shadow behind her and was suddenly grabbed from behind. She flailed her arms and the attacker ran away.
The other five sexual assault incidents occurred on the following dates: April 19, May 19, September 28, October 13 and October 19, 2013. All victims were female, walking alone on the grounds of UBC.
These incidents are extremely troubling. The RCMP is using every means available to quickly identify and apprehend this perpetrator, says Sgt. Peter Thiessen, Lower Mainland RCMP Spokesperson.
We have engaged numerous specialized RCMP units such as the Bike Patrol, Lower Mainland District Integrated Police Dog Services and Emergency Response Team, our Behavioural Sciences Group with Criminal and Geographic Profilers and Crime Analysts. We will not let up until this person is off the streets.
I am grateful to the RCMP who have made this a top priority, said UBC President and Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope.
Their investigation is critical to restoring the safety of the Vancouver campus and we are working closely with them to solve these crimes.
This past weekend, the RCMP Lower Mainland District Integrated Tactical Troop knocked on hundreds of residences on the UBC campus and spoke to approximately 300 individuals in their homes in an effort to gain additional information. To date, police have received approximately 30 to 40 tips from the public.
Based on victim and witness statements, the common descriptors of the suspect are:
- Caucasian with a slightly darker or olive skin tone, possibly tanned
- Mid- to late 20’s or even 30’s
- Thin build
- Range of 5’8 to 6’2
- Longer rounder chin and face with straight nose
- Broad forehead
- Short, dark hair
We continue to urge the public for any information that may assist in locating the suspect, and to report any and all suspicious persons or activities to police or campus security. They also urge any other victims or witnesses that have not yet made a report to police, to contact police immediately. The BC RCMP Major Crimes Section’s tipline is 778-290-5291 or toll free at 1-877-543-4822.
Meanwhile, the police are also asking everyone to please use caution when walking alone through the campus in the evening. The suspect is taking opportunities of attacking lone women at night. Take every precaution to keep yourself safe.
Letter to the community from UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope
Dear members of UBC’s Vancouver campus community:
Today UBC joined the RCMP for a press conference that revealed new, disturbing information about the spate of sexual assaults on our Vancouver campus.
This is a time of stress for everyone in our community and I, like you, am extremely concerned by these developments. I am grateful to the RCMP who have made this a top priority. Their investigation is critical to restoring the safety of our campus and UBC is working closely with them to solve this crime. If you have information that could help the RCMP in their investigation, I urge you to contact them (1-800-222-TIPS).
We are working with our campus leaders – staff, faculty and students – to continue enhanced campus security and increase support for our campus community. This is now our number one priority, and we are mobilizing all necessary resources to this end.
This latest news will no doubt be frightening to many of you, so if you feel you need to talk, please do not hesitate to make use of the UBC, AMS and RCMP counselling services listed on our new safety web site: http://www.ubc.ca/staysafe.
This new central web site will provide you with the latest information, safety tips and campus resources all in one hub.
In the days to come, until the alleged perpetrator is apprehended, I ask you to be extra vigilant. Make sure you have the information you need to stay safe. The ultimate choice is yours, but the RCMP is advising you not to walk alone after dark. Please look out for each other.
But above all, I believe this is not a time to give in to anxiety. This is a time to rally in support of one another, stand up against violence, and live out our commitment to a dynamic learning community free from fear.
Tell us what we can do better. Voice your concerns and take steps to make others feel safe during your daily activities.
We will get through this, together.
Stephen J. Toope
President and Vice-Chancellor
Image: UBC Public Affairs