Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara said they were on edge Monday after two sexual assaults were reported near the campus in two days.
In the latest incident, a 19-year-old female student was brutally attacked between 11 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said they were searching for three males who beat and raped the victim.
“A little alarming, a little scary,” said freshman Chiko Anyiwo. “It could be anyone. So, we don’t know who it is or how long they’ve been here.”
A sheriff’s K-9 unit and University of California police officers were searching the UCSB campus and the neighboring Isla Vista area, which is known for partying and drinking.
The victim was taken to an area hospital for an examination and treatment for injuries. She was later released and was with her family, said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.
“We have some big challenges in this case. We had a victim who went through quite an ordeal and was very shook up, as she should have been,” Hoover said. “We weren’t able to get a lot of information from her initially. She was only able to tell us this was a group of Asian males.”
Later Monday afternoon, authorities announced that the victim had last been seen between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Sunday walking northbound on Embarcadero Del Mar near Segovia Road.
Investigators were still trying to figure out where the crime occurred, the Sheriff’s Office announced.
Another sexual assault was reported in Isla Vista about 1 a.m. Saturday, when a woman said she was attacked outside a party in the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive.
In that incident, a man described only as thin, 5 foot 6 inches tall, and with dark hair and brown eyes had assaulted the victim after taking her behind a car outside the party, authorities said in an email sent out via the UCSB Alert system. The Sheriff’s Office was investigating.
Students said they were troubled — and frightened — by the incidents.
“The fact that they could be walking around and it’s a possibility that I could actually know one of them — that kind of scares me,” freshman Josephine Ampaw said. “Not only I, but all my friends are at risk.”
The incidents come after three young men were arrested Jan. 18 in Isla Vista on suspicion of rape in concert, which is charged when two or more people act together to commit rape or other sexual assaults, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Officials urged students to take extra precautions, including walking in pairs, and paying attention to their surroundings. Heightened police presence was on campus at night, and some students said that was a comfort.
Anyone with information on the incidents was urged to call 911, or to leave an anonymous tip at 805-681-4171.