MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 20-year-old Mankato man is accused of burglary, assault and stalking after a female college student was woken up by an intruder and allegedly pepper-sprayed in her dorm room, according to charges filed Monday in Blue Earth County Court.
Alexander James Gowan Nuehring was charged with first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling, first-degree burglary with possession of a dangerous weapon, first-degree assault and stalking in connection with the incident. It happened early Saturday morning in the Julia Sears dormitory on the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus. Nuehring is a student at the school.
According to a complaint, Mankato Police were called at about 5:18 a.m. Saturday to the dorm on a report of an assault. When officers arrived, a woman appeared emotionally distressed with her eyes red and swollen, telling police she been had attacked by a man with pepper spray. The suspect, later identified as Nuehring, fled down a flight of stairs after leaving her room.
The woman told police she woke up to find a man in her room, standing about five feet away from her bed. The man put a white mask over his face, and the victim jumped out of her bed and screamed. The complaint states as he approached her, he sprayed something in her face. She told police she was confused at first, but then panicked and ran around the man towards the hallway.
She said she was grabbed from behind and a hand was placed over her mouth. According to the complaint, she made it out into the hallway but was then shoved from behind and had her head pushed into a wall. She then started yelling for help and went down the hall banging on doors, and as she ran, the suspect fled the scene.
The victim told police the suspect was wearing mostly black clothing, gloves and a mask similar to the one in the movie, “Scream.” Her ear was also bleeding as it was believed her earring was ripped out during the struggle.
The complaint states police were given card access that showed Nuehring, a community adviser for the school, had used his card to access multiple areas of the dorm where the incident occurred.
Officers found Nuehring, who initially denied any involvement in the incident. After authorities obtained a search warrant for his room, he told police he just intended to go into the room and steal something. He told police he had no intention of sexually assaulting the woman but said if he went into her room and found money it would be “awesome.” He said he did not know why he did it, other than the allure of getting away with it and he had never done anything like that before, the complaint states.
He told police he entered the suite next to the woman’s room and entered her room through a bathroom. He said the woman woke up, shined a light on him and he used pepper spray against her, but she still charged at him. According to the complaint, he said he tried to fight her off but then fled.
In a search of his room, officers discovered $138 in his desk as well as a bottle of pepper spray, scissors, duct tape, a left-hand skeleton glove and the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing at the time of the incident.
If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 65 years in prison and up to $115,000 in fines.