University of Georgia students are in shock after Channel 2 Action News reported Saturday that police are investigating reports a 22-year-old University of Georgia student was raped Saturday morning in downtown Athens.
The attack occurred about 3 a.m. in the area of Dearing and Church streets, Athens Clarke-County police spokesman Geof Gilland said. Police said the man ran toward Milledge following the attack.
The student, who said she did not know her attacker, described the man as 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a dark complexion, short hair and an athletic build, police said.
“It just seems so violent and random. We are all just asking, ‘Why?’” student Nathan Cooley said.
Student Kosi Ehirim normally parks at night on the street where the assault occurred but is now rethinking that routine: “It’s crazy to hear she was walking the same way I’m walking and she was just grabbed like that.”
About two blocks away from where the attack happened, investigators believe the suspect walked by or had contact with a couple walking down near Dearing and Finley streets. Police want to identify that couple, hoping they can help the investigation.
“I hope they find the couple, I hope the couple saw something,” Cooley said.
Neighbors told Channel 2 Action News they found out about the attack when the victim's parents began knocking on doors.
“It was tough,” neighbor Matt Marvel said. “That’s a moment that will stay with you forever.”
One common thing mentioned by students and longtime residents alike was that the area is known to be very dark. The community is now working to change that.
Athens-Clarke police are urging everyone, especially students, to stay in groups or well-lit areas.
Ehirim, for one, said she’s going to start parking somewhere else.
“It’s going to make me more alert. I’m going to put my phone down and stuff,” Ehirim said. “You never think it’s going to be you until it’s you.”