On Monday, March 10 at 12:06 a.m., JCUPD alerted the John Carroll University community of an unidentified man roaming the campus and verbally harassing students. The text alert read, “Tonight an unknown male made improper comments to students in Ad Bldg. & Millor Hall. Described as blk male, 6’ tall, blk coat, tan pants. Call JCUPD w/ any info.”
Brian Hurd, assistant director of JCUPD, said they received three calls from students about the stranger. The first call was from a student in the Administration Building.
“He approached her in the building,” said Hurd. “She just felt a little uncomfortable, and she wasn’t really sure why at first, but then as the conversation kept going, he mentioned that he had a problem in his head, a problem in his brain, and the only way to cure that was to have sex with somebody. And he wanted her to go into the bathroom with him. And she obviously said no and she yelled at him and got out of there real quick.”
While searching through the Administration Building and the rest of campus along with University Heights police, JCUPD received another call from a student who stated that she encountered a suspicious man asking about the location of the residence halls.
Freshman Sarah Maroun was in rehearsal for JCU’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” in Kulas Auditorium when she noticed an unfamiliar man sitting in the back of the theater. The man followed her out of the auditorium when she left to take a break.
“It was the creepiest thing,” said Maroun. “So I turned around, and I was like, ‘Can I help you?’ He was stammering, and he couldn’t put a sentence together. So he said, ‘Yeah, um, what program are you guys doing?’ And I was like, ‘It’s a play for the school.’ Like, why are you asking me these questions? And he was like, ‘Oh, okay, that’s interesting. Can you tell me where the dorms are?’ I just lied through my teeth. I was like, ‘I’m not with the school. I can’t help you with that. I don’t know where they are.’”
Maroun said the man then asked to sit in on the rehearsal, and she told him that it was not an open rehearsal.
“Then I went back in [Kulas] and I was like, okay, that was odd,” said Maroun. “He’s roaming around campus. We should probably call JCUPD.”
While searching campus, JCUPD received a third call from a student who spotted a man with a similar description in Millor Hall. The student reported that the man was acting suspiciously and asking students to take a survey of some kind.
“We searched Millor, didn’t find the person, and we didn’t know where he was,” said Hurd. “So we had to put out something immediately in the text message alert. Our options were to send an email alert, which doesn’t get the word out quickly to everybody. Text messages are an appropriate way to get the word out pretty quickly that there was somebody on campus, general description, acting inappropriately, anything suspicious call us.”
Hurd suspects that the man entered the residence hall, which can only be entered with a fob key, by following a resident inside.
“It’s not that hard, truthfully,” said Hurd. “This is something we always have to deal with, what we call tailgaters tailgating into the building. And there are students who really are nice and friendly, and somebody who looks okay to them, they let them in just to be gracious hosts. So it’s kind of hard to say if you don’t know that person, don’t let them walk in behind you, because if someone is right there, it put students in a spot. But that’s something we want to make sure everybody knows, is that regardless of your upbringing to be a good host and polite and everything, it’s your home also, so just be aware of people that you don’t know, letting them in.”
JCUPD did not catch the suspect and did not receive any more calls after they searched Millor. Hurd said that while he is concerned that the man may return, JCUPD has a description of him from several students and is on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
“Certainly just by sending the text alert, people are more heightened to suspicious behavior,” said Hurd. “And we do want people to call us when they see things. Typically the campus does pretty good with that, and that’s part of being a close-knit community.”
“I’m not really scared if he does [return],” said Maroun. “We know who he is; we know he’s a creep, so someone will end up calling JCUPD. I guess it’s a little disheartening that he was able to walk onto campus so easily. But if he shows up again, JCUPD already has a profile on him, so I’m not too worried.”