“I’m mortified”: FIU stalker raises concerns for campus residents

Building D, where the incidents have been taking place | Photo credit student Nathaniel Heustis

Izzy Canizares | Contributing Writer

When third-year English student Emma Brewer was reading in bed, the last thing she expected was a strange man looking into her bedroom window in the middle of the night. 

She was able to steal a glance at the perpetrator but in a second he was gone, ducking under the window. 

“I saw something move really quickly, but since it was dark I really couldn’t see,” Brewer recalls the incident from July. “Then the neighbor texted, ‘I’m seeing him moving right next door.’”

This nightmare was a reality for residents at University Apartments this summer. While this victim was relocated, many students have not been able to do so. 

Multiple students who live in University Apartments D, have reported a man staring into their first story windows, in the middle of the night.

According to witnesses, the individual seems to always be the same man. White, light brown hair, thick neck and a hat, covering his face. He seems to watch his victims from the basketball courts, always at night, according to eyewitnesses. 

“It’s just annoying for the solution to be like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna go make sure he’s not there anymore,” said Brewer. “We need preventative measures here. We need to nip it in the bud.” 

While the FIU Police Department was contacted during the first incident and a report was made, they could not take further action due to the lack of physical evidence. 

According to police chief Alexander Casas, there were about two incidents at the time of writing and three just after publication.

On top of that, FIU police have confirmed it seems that many of the cameras don’t work due to the age of the buildings, and there are none pointed in the area where the man has been spotted.

The area where the man has been spotted, also shows no camera on the buildings | Photo credit student Nathaniel Heustis

This concern was brought to the Dean of Students office via email, and they reached out to the victim over the phone, urging them to report the incident to Safety and Hazard so they could look into the issue.

Lieutenant Kristin Cundle of the FIU Police Department met with students to listen to their concerns. Her advice to students is to report any suspicious behavior straight to law enforcement, and to download the Rave Guardian app.

This app was created by FIU for security purposes and the main feature Cundle highlights is the “panic” button, which a student can press and send law enforcement to their relative location if they feel unsafe.

“If it makes the hair on the back of your neck tingle, report it,” said Lieutenant Cundle during her discussion with students. “Anything weird you come across, make sure to report it to the PD.”

Lieutenant Kristin Cundle shares resources for students who feel unsafe at University Apartments

So far the only known building being targeted in these peeping incidents is University Apartments D. 

PantherNOW spoke to Investigator Jose Benitez who confirmed that there is still an indefinite watch placed on University Apartments and that “housing is looking to make some changes and add equipment.”

However, some students believe more preventative measures should be taken. 

“It’s really sad to see how a billion dollar school can invest in new buildings but not in the safety of the students living on campus,” said third-year psychology student, Samantha Garotte, another victim of the stalker. “We don’t have any cameras that work, someone is stalking all of us on the first floor and looking through our blinds. I’m mortified.”

This does not seem to be an isolated issue, as there have been multiple accounts of stalking and assault cases in other buildings. From January alone, there have been at least 10 combined stalking/harassment cases and at least 15 assault/battery reports

Garotte recalls her time living in Tamiami Hall and how she had to get in contact with an FIU detective, because a group of men tried to break into her dorm around November of last year. 

“It was really messed up and the fact that this is happening now again but even worse because I live right in front of the basketball courts,” said Garotte. 

While Garotte was able to identify the alleged stalker in images from a security camera, she was informed there was not enough physical evidence to pursue it any further.

“I’m definitely planning on getting curtains first of all, keeping windows and doors locked at all times,” says Brewer. “I’m definitely going to move my bed away from the line of sight.”

As of the writing of this article, the stalker has still not been apprehended. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article attributed an incorrect number of incidents to an investigator who had not directly spoken to the reporter. This information has been corrected.

To report suspicious behavior, visit police.fiu.edu

FIU Police has a list of individuals who have been trespassed from the University, if you see any of these individuals, please contact FIU police at 305-348-2626.

If you are a victim of harassment, assault or stalking, contact the Victim Empowerment Program at FIU.

Be the first to comment on "“I’m mortified”: FIU stalker raises concerns for campus residents"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.