McMaster issues security alert after 2 women sexually assaulted

McMaster University has issued a security alert following two sexual assault incidents in a nearby neighbouood that police believe are related.

Police say two sexual assaults are related

McMaster University has issued a security alert after two women were sexually assaulted near the campus last week. Police believe the two incidents are related. (Terry Asma/CBC)

McMaster University has issued its own security alerts after two women were sexually assaulted in a neighbourhood near the campus.

The university's security services issued a security alert on its website late last week after ther first incident and then again Monday after Hamiton police said the two incidents were likely related. Police are asking for public assistance in identifying a suspect.

The first incident occurred Thursday shortly before midnight. According to police report, a woman was walking westbound on Sussex Drive near Emerson Street when she heard shuffling behind her and started to run. A man grabbed her from behind, held her mouth and sexually assaulted her. She fell down but managed to free herself and screamed. Two witnesses heard the scream and chased the suspect west on Sussex and then south on Emerson.

The woman suffered minor injuries from the fall.

The second incident took place a few blocks away from the first assault and shared many similarities.

A woman was walking southbound on Emerson Sunday shortly before midnight when she was grabbed from behind and sexually assaulted. She screamed, and the suspect let go and ran away.

McMaster sent out an alert on its website, as well as its internal communications portal Daily News, last Friday following the first incident. The alert was updated this week with information on the second incident.

Michelle Donovan, the university's manager of media relations, stressed that the incidents did not take place on campus. "Regardless we do take it seriously," she said. 

Police spokesperson Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning did not say if the two victims are McMaster students. However, the neighbourhood where the attacks occurred is a popular area for off-campus student housing.

The Hamilton Police Service Sexual Assault Unit Police plans to go back over previous reports of sexual assaults in the area to see if any might be connected.

The suspect is described as an Asian male, approximately 5'6" to 5"10" tall with a medium build. He is described to be in his late teens to early 20's. He had shaggy black hair, was clean-shaven and wore black wire-framed glasses.

At the time of the attack, he was wearing a white collared polo shirt with red stripes, light beige cargo pants and white running shoes with white ankle socks.

Hamilton Police say anyone with information should contact Detective Michelle Moore at 905-540-5545 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.