MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man claiming to be a police officer kidnapped a woman in Fridley and sexually assaulted her Saturday afternoon. Now, authorities say it may be connected to a similar incident involving a University of Minnesota student.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., the victim, who is from Minneapolis, was walking to her vehicle in the 6400 block of 5th Street Northeast in Fridley when she was approached by the man identifying himself as a police officer. He then kidnapped her and later sexually assaulted her before releasing her, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
Cmdr. Paul Sommer says he hasn’t dealt with an incident like this in the 28 years he’s been on the job. He doesn’t want people to be afraid of real police officers there to help.
“It’s frustrating because you’ve got the public who places trust in you, and when you have somebody using that image to prey upon them it’s frightening for everybody,” he said.
The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall, 190-pound black man driving a smaller, dark-colored SUV. He was wearing a dark cap, dark sweatshirt, dark sunglasses and blue jeans.
In a similar incident early Sunday morning, a University of Minnesota student was walking off campus near the intersection of 15th Avenue SE and 8th Street SE when she was approached by a suspect in a black SUV. The suspect cautioned the victim about walking alone and offered her a ride.
When the victim agreed and entered the vehicle, the suspect locked the doors of the SUV, drove to a remote location and sexually assaulted her, according to police.
Police say the incidents are “most likely related” and offered advice on interacting with people claiming to be police officers.
“The public is reminded that any real Police Officer will identify the name of the law enforcement agency they work for, and will carry a badge and identification credentials,” Sommer said in the press release. “If you are approached by a person claiming to be a police officer you may ask to see the officer’s credentials and if the officer is in plain clothes or an unmarked vehicle you can always call 911 to verify the officer’s credentials or ask for a uniformed officer in a marked squad before cooperating with that officer.”
The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office at 763-427-1212.