ORLANDO, Fla. - University of Central Florida officials are warning students to protect themselves as police search for the four men who attacked a student.
The attack occurred about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday in parking lot B12 near the UCF water tower at Gemini Boulevard and Libra Drive, campus police said.
According to police, four assailants, wearing hooded sweatshirts and bandanas, approached the man, pistol-whipped and robbed him and fled in a gray Ford Focus.
The victim flagged down a passerby who contacted the UCF Police Department. The student was taken to a hospital for treatment and later released.
"I've never had anything like that happen," said Joey Wilkinson, a UCF student. "It seems like it's a safe campus overall, so it does surprise me to hear about that. I think I'm going to watch out a little bit more carefully from now on."
"There's usually a ton of people around too, so if something happens, someone else is there," said Paula Yespelkis, another UCF student.
A detailed description of the assailants has not been released.
Although an alert went out to every student on campus, Local 6 discovered many students continued to walk alone at night. Some students admit they're not worried about their safety, even though four attackers on still on the loose.
Casey Perkowski said, "It's kind of a freak thing. I haven't really heard of anything before this about that. So, I'm not too concerned."
Local 6 spotted him alone, on his phone, unaware of his surroundings.
The case was the same for Thayne Brown.
"I guess we're all just a little naive," said Brown. "What would it take? I guess for something to actually happen to me."
But campus officials said it happened to an 18-year-old student near a busy parking lot around 12:20 Tuesday morning near the corner of Gemini Boulevard and Libra Drive. The four men pistol-whipped the victim in the back of the head and stole his phone and keys. The victim was treated at a local hospital and released.
Meanwhile, the university beefed up campus patrols and told students to take the bus, call for an escort that is available around the clock or walk with friends.
Not everyone has ignored the warning.
Kennedy Sumner said the attack right near her place changed her routine.
"I am going to start carrying pepper spray," said Sumner. "Now, I'm more aware of what I need to be looking out for and keep my eye open."
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the UCF Police Department at 407-823-5555 or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
Press release from UCF:
"If you have any information about this incident, please contact the UCF Police Department at 407-823-5555 or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (800-423-8477).
Students and staff and faculty members on UCF's main campus who want escorts to their vehicles are encouraged to use the UCF Police Department's Safe Escort Patrol Service. Call 407-823-2424 between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday to arrange a ride. After 1 a.m. or on weekends, call 407-823-5555 to arrange a ride.
To report a crime or suspicious activity on any UCF campus or off campus, dial 9-1-1 and give your location if you are using a cell phone.
Students are encouraged to walk in groups whenever possible and to walk with a purpose without distractions. Keep your cell phone and car keys handy so you can reach them quickly."
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