Police: Virginia Tech Carilion student who escaped stalker reacted correctly

Medical student says man tried to grab her in separate two incidents

ROANOKE, Va. – It was a narrow escape from a stalker.

Police said a Roanoke woman who allegedly got away from a man who was trying to grab her reacted in the correct way.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine student told police that she didn't know the man. She said he tried to grab her while she was on a run -- two different times.

The first incident happened about two weeks ago on the Greenway around 12:35 p.m.

The second was Wednesday around 12:35 p.m. near Reserve Avenue and the River's Edge Sports Complex -- an area near the school of medicine often filled with runners and walkers. Police said the man got out of a vehicle and chased her, yelled at her and tried to grab her.

Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic police said the man was stalking her. They sent an alert about the incidents Thursday.

Roanoke police are leading the investigation.

"She did everything she was supposed to do. She ran away from him. She made herself loud and drew attention to herself, which is what we want people to do," Roanoke police officer Chelsea Faber said. "In general, this is a very safe area. I will tell you that police are on the greenways. It's one of our spots that we're on a lot because we want people to feel safe in these areas."

Faber said officers heavily patrol the greenway, both in and out of uniform.

Police said the suspect is a man in his mid-40s. He allegedly got out of a white SUV crossover.

Some are reminded of past incidents on the greenway. In 2016, a man was convicted of abduction and exposing himself.

"I think it's really important to always be aware of your surroundings, and as a young female, it's easy to be oblivious," Roanoke resident Cierra Kysor said.

Many are mindful of the potential danger.

"I try and time it where it's going to be pretty populated. I don't run at night, and I always let my husband know when I'm going to be here and let him know where I park," Roanoke resident Bethanie Kinney said.

Roanoke police said anyone going on a walk or a run should keep three main things in mind:

-Stay aware of surroundings.
-Try to be in a group.
-Stay in well-lit areas.

Officers added that it can be helpful to make eye contact with those around you to show assertiveness. It's also good to not play music so loudly in headphones that atmospheric noise can't be heard.

Having pepper spray available is another potential strategy.

Roanoke police are running women's safety clinics at Fleet Feet to teach prevention and self-defense. The next meeting is Nov. 4.