Attempted sexual assault keeping U of M students vigilant; police search for suspect

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The area around 6th Street Southeast and 10th Avenue Southeast is a quiet neighborhood, near Dinkytown, and the University of Minnesota.

Many in the area are surprised to learn a man tried to sexually assault a woman nearby. 

"I'm always, just really cautious about what time of day I go out," says Jo Hartz, who lives nearby. "People should always be aware, and unfortunately, women have to be extra cautious about what's going on." 

On Tuesday, the University put out an alert, calling this an attempted kidnapping. But now police are calling this an attempted sexual assault case. 

"We want everyone to remain vigilant," says John Elder, a Minneapolis Police Department spokesman. "Any assault is bothersome, absolutely. It's more brazen when it's during the day. And so that absolutely raises the stakes." 

The attack happened in broad daylight, at 10:30 a.m. Police say a woman was sitting in her car when a man approached. He tried to wrestle her into the back seat, but she fought back, and he ran off. 

"Someone was trying to force their way into a car," says U of M student Ali Stone, who says she learned about the attack from a community listserv. 

Stone says she's glad the word about the attempted assault is getting out, but worries about safety. 

"I walk here. This is my route every day," she said. "I don't wear headphones and music when I walk, so I'm pretty aware of my surroundings." 

Authorities believe the suspect is responsible for several similar assaults across the metro since 2018, but they aren't commenting on those incidents right now.  

Police have released only a vague description. 

"Living in a city, you always have to be concerned, and keeping an eye on what's going on around you," Hartz says.   

So far no arrests have been made. 

Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact Minneapolis Police or CrimeStoppers. 

From Elder, an urgent plea to the public:

"Please remain alert to your surroundings," he said. "Call 911 if you have an individual who seems out of place or who is lurking in an area like a parking lot, alley or parking garage … to prevent any assaults in our community, to our neighbors."