UNMPD officers say they may have found a motive in the stabbing of a UNM student Monday night on campus: The assailant allegedly slashed the woman’s throat for her cell phone.
The victim told UNMPD officers that her attacker came up from behind her as she was talking on her phone, a BlackBerry, and slashed her neck while he snatched the device.
The victim, a UNM student and employee, is reportedly in satisfactory condition at UNM Hospital, according to UNMPD spokesman Robert Haarhues.
“She’s obviously very tired from the trauma to her neck, but she’s resting comfortably over at the hospital,” he said at a news conference Tuesday.
Haarhues said UNMPD investigators don’t think the assailant is a UNM student.
Because the investigation is ongoing, the police department’s records department will not release the victim’s name. Also, it is Daily Lobo policy not to release the names of crime victims without their consent.
The suspect is still at large, Haarhues said.
“The investigation’s active,” he said. “We have a lot of leads to follow up on. A lot of the campus community is calling — surrounding neighborhoods are calling — and giving us information.”
The victim is enrolled in a music appreciation class that meets Monday evenings. She burst into the classroom in the anthropology building around 7:55 p.m. and said she’d been stabbed.
Several students bolted out of the room in pursuit of the alleged assailant, and several more remained and used their T-shirts to place pressure on the woman’s bleeding neck wound.
Daniel Davis, who teaches the class, said in an e-mail that he’s proud of his students’ response when faced with the traumatizing event.
“I am very proud of how my Music 139 class rose to the occasion, offering help to the victim and assisting the authorities as witnesses, respecting the privacy of the victim and remaining relatively calm in a stressful situation,” he said. “I am amazed and honored to have such a fine group of students.”
Davis said he encouraged his students to seek counseling if necessary.
“I am most concerned for the welfare of my students and especially for the victim of this crime, who is also a student of my music appreciation class,” he said.
Police are asking the UNM community to be on the lookout for a 6-foot-tall, 150-pound black man who wore a black hooded sweatshirt and a black baseball cap the night of the assault.
Even though Haarhues said the crime was “very unusual,” he said it’s common for violent or disruptive members of the community to wander onto campus.
“We’re constantly dealing with people who just come on the campus to hang out,” he said. “We give them criminal trespass notices, and we move them off the campus, but it takes an administrative action to actually bar them from the campus.”
Despite the incident, Haarhues said UNM’s campus is safe.
“We have very few crimes like this on campus,” he said. “We were even trying to remember when the last one happened.”
An hour and a half after the assault, two UNM TextMe alerts — which are sent out through a collaborative effort between UNMPD and University Communications and Marketing — were sent out to students, faculty and staff who signed up for the service encouraging them to be vigilant and travel in groups.