ISLA VISTA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara on Monday night alerted the campus community that an attempted kidnapping had occurred, and as more incident reports came in over the days following, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office provided an investigation update on Wednesday night.
"On Monday, February 28, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office and UCSB Police received several reports of sexual assaults and possible kidnappings in the Isla Vista area," said sheriff's spokeswoman Raquel Zick.
An exposure was first reported shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday night, and "was followed in quick succession" by similar events on the west side of Isla Vista, Zick said.
Shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday night, a suspect approached a victim near Camino Del Sur and Sueno Road and "fondled her breast while covering her mouth" before fleeing in a vehicle, according to Zick.
The UC Police Department received a separate report of an additional "nonconsensual fondling" that occurred near the West Campus Family Housing around 8:30 p.m., Zick continued.
During that time span, and throughout the night, sheriff's deputies searched the area who had been described as a college-aged male with dark hair, associated with a tan-colored 1990's model Toyota Camry or potentially a 1990s Honda, according to Zick.
County Air Support and a Sheriff's K9 unit assisted with the search, and while the Sheriff's Office received several reports of possible suspect sightings throughout the night, it was unsuccessful in locating the suspect, Zick said.
The Isla Vista Community Services District on Wednesday night said that it has also been in contact with local law enforcement, and learned that the perpetrator is still at large.
"Over the week, we have been contacted by many residents who are frightened and concerned about the attempted kidnappings and sexual violence that occurred on Monday, January 28," said IVCSD President Spencer Brandt.
"These crimes have affected all of us – elementary school students, college students, and community members alike."
Deputies in Isla Vista have continued to respond to each of the possible sightings, and the Sheriff's Office assigned these cases to detectives on March 1, Zick said.
"Additionally, Sheriff’s Office personnel have fielded numerous calls from community members, concerned parents, and persons offering information to help identify the suspect," she continued.
"Online tips have been received and forwarded to detectives."
In the days to come, Zick said that the Sheriff's Office and UCPD will maintain increased patrols in Isla Vista and on campus. UCSB will also have additional Community Service Organization staff added to its escort, Zick said.
The UCPD is also planning to offer R.A.D. self-defense classes soon, she added.