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Suspect at large, woman attacked near UM campus

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:58:31 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 21 2013 09:25:03 AM MST

Police are searching for a man they say attacked and strangled the 18-year-old woman.

The woman was apparently injured but did not need medical attention.

MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula police are searching for a man suspected of attacking and strangling an 18-year-old University of Montana student near campus.

It happened shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Police said the woman was hurt but did not need medical attention.

The University of Montana sent out an alert around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

It happened in a residential area. It's sometimes called Greek Row with its large number of fraternities and sororities. Hellgate High School is less than a block away.

The report said the woman told police a man grabbed her near the corner of Gerald and Daly while she was walking home to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority.

The woman said a male walked past her, then approached her from behind and began choking her while tackling her to the ground.

Police spent the morning on the University of Montana campus. They talked to students.

Missoula Police Detective Sergeant Scott Pastian said the suspect "grabbed the woman on the neck."

Pastian said some people nearby must have scared him because he did run away. Police said the suspect took off on foot heading northwest towards Higgins, then disappeared.

"She ran to her sorority," said Pastian, "then called police."

A neighboring fraternity reminded its members it has an escort policy to help its sorority sisters.

News of the assault did not stop students from running for exercise on these shady streets. But they may be more careful.

"You can't expect every guy is a potential assaulter," said student Carly Campbell, "but when one is, it's scary."

On campus it was a normal class day.

"People kind of get complacent," said student Ashley Mackey, "you have to be on your guard."

Hellgate High School is only a block away. The district said it informed Hellgate staff of the incident.

The school resource officer asks staff to report any suspicious activity or people in the area.

If people are at Hellgate late they are urged to find a custodian to walk them to their car.

The suspect is described as in his early to mid 20's, about 5'6" tall and skinny. He has shaggy blond hair down to his ears and was wearing glasses with wire frames.

The alleged victim said he was wearing blue jeans, a gray zip-up sweater with some kind of log on the front, and a light-colored shirt.