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Pittsburgh Police investigating off-campus sexual assault

Pitt and Pittsburgh Police investigating off-campus sexual assault
Pitt and Pittsburgh Police investigating off-campus sexual assault 00:38

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Students at Pitt woke up Sunday to an alert that a sexual assault happened overnight off Melwood by Centre, less than a mile away from campus. They told KDKA that it's something that's become all too common.

Pitt senior Skylar Ondrejko felt uneasy, walking along her block on Melwood, after learning someone was sexually assaulted there hours earlier.

"[It] definitely makes me a little bit nervous," Ondrejko said. "It's just kind of an unfortunate reality."

University police said they were advised by Pittsburgh police about the incident that happened just after 2 a.m.

Officers spoke to a victim who said she was sexually assaulted by an unknown man who took out a knife, struck her in the face, and took her cell phone.

Later in the morning, KDKA captured investigators out on Melwood focusing on an area near apartments called Melwood Manor.

"I don't ever really worry. I walk around here at night all the time, but I definitely might have to change that plan," Ondrejko said.

Melissa Pallotti graduated from Pitt in 2018. She also lives on the block and has similar feelings to Ondrejko.

"It's surprising. This area's pretty safe in general," Pallotti said.

They're surprised about the location, but not the act.

This assault comes on top of many others KDKA has reported on in recent years happening on or near Pitt's campus, and it's impacting not just Pitt students but also those at universities like Carnegie Mellon, like Gabrielle Harper.

Pittsburgh Police investigating off-campus sexual assault 02:27

"I have lived on this block for almost three years now and have never heard anything happening," Harper said.

They take precautions, whether carrying mace or pepper spray or trying to walk at night with someone else, all the while staying vigilant the best they can.

"Unfortunately, like the world we live in, you can't afford to be oblivious. You have to just kind of always have your wits about you, and even then bad things can obviously still happen," Ondrejko said.

The suspect has yet to be found. Police describe him as between 30 and 40 years old, with a thin build, 5-foot-6 or 5-foot-7, and was last seen wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, cargo pants, and a ski mask.

Pittsburgh police are investigating.

If you have any information regarding this incident, call the City of Pittsburgh Police Department (Zone 4) at 412-422-6520 (Reference CCR #240044729) or the University of Pittsburgh Police at 412-624-2121 (Reference report #24-00772).

If you or someone you know needs support, the following resources are available, 24/7:

  • Pittsburgh Action Against Rape: 1-866-363-7272
  • University Counseling Center: 412-648-7930
  • Resolve Crisis Services: 1-888-796-8226
  • Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

You can also download the Rave Guardian safety app, which allows different options for contacting the police, including anonymous reporting options.

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