Potential sighting of attempted kidnapper has FGCU students worried

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
Composite sketch courtesy of the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
Composite sketch courtesy of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

A potential sighting of an attempted kidnapper has Christina Cappello anxious, as she walked by herself for the first time on Thursday at Three Oaks Park.

“Oh my goodness, that is absolutely terrifying,” Cappello said when she learned of the possible sighting. “Who carries protection out here? I know I don’t think of that when I’m coming to walk or workout.”

A viral post on Facebook with over 2,000 shares said a woman was running with her dog to the park when she noticed a car that appeared to be following her.

The woman snapped the picture, according to police and proceeded to call them. The authorities said her description of the driver matched that of the man who attempted to kidnap a young woman in the parking lot of a student apartment complex near Florida Gulf Coast University less than a month ago.

The attempted kidnapping near FGCU occurred in the evening. At just after 11:30 p.m. in the parking lot of The Residences at University Village, the victim heard a vehicle speeding behind her.

When she turned around to look, the black vehicle pulled up adjacent to her, where the driver immediately stepped out.

The thin man grabbed the woman’s jacket, seeking to push her into his vehicle forcibly. But the victim bravely fought back, leading the man to let go. While she ran for help, the suspect fled the parking lot in his black SUV.

Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers has received fewer tips and leads as the days passed since the attempted kidnapping last month. The government unit is still offering anonymity and a reward up to $3,000 for information.

“It’s pretty crazy, but it’s definitely good to be aware there are people like that out there,” Oceana Gershburg said, an FGCU student, “and to of course take precautions against them.”

Precautions that Gershburg said she already takes. She encourages others to do the same.

“I carry around a pepper spray on my keys,” Gershburg said. “At least I have some form of protection to help.”

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