Monroe Park attack prompts VCU alert

RICHMOND, Va. -- A person was attacked in Monroe Park Sunday, according to VCU Police. The university alerted students to the crime that was reported in the city park within the downtown campus.

"The victim was walking through Monroe Park when he was approached by the suspect and struck. The suspect then attempted to take the victim’s wallet, but was unsuccessful," VCU Police wrote in the alert. "The suspect was last seen running east towards Belvidere Street."

The crime was reported at about 8:09 p.m. Sunday.

"The suspect is described as being a black male, approximately 6 feet tall, wearing a black beanie hat with a grey hoodie and black shoes," police said. "The suspect was also described as having a noticeable gap in his front teeth."

Police continue to investigate the crime and have increased patrols in the area.

While police have not yet said if the victim was a student, the department offered safety tips to those on campus.

"There are certain things you need to be aware of living in an urban environment. Crimes may occur in our community. The best defense is to be prepared and to take responsibility for your own safety and for that of your friends and fellow students," a police spokesperson said.

A few key reminders:

If you find yourself in a similar situation do not resist. Cooperate.

In the event of an incident such as this, the information you provide police will help them identify the suspect(s). Focus on his or her physical characteristics, i.e. clothing description, height and weight, and last known direction of travel.

Don't make any sudden, unexpected moves.

If the suspect claims to have a weapon, never try to force the bluff.

Never try to apprehend the criminal yourself. Call the police immediately.

When out walking, trust your instincts about a person or situation and choose safety over courtesy.

If you need help, look for an Emergency Reporting Telephone. You automatically will be connected to the VCU Police Department.

Be aware of your surroundings. Do not let a cell phone conversation or listening to music distract you when crossing the street or in another situation that calls for your full attention.

Avoid isolated areas and walking alone at night. Consider using the RamSafe transportation service between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. Call 828-SAFE (7233) or visit http://www.ramsafe.vcu.edu

Be very cautious if someone tries to stop or distract you; a suspect may ask, “Do you have a cigarette?” or “Can I use your phone?”