MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis police think one man is responsible for attacking several women over the past two years.

The latest attempted assault happened Tuesday at about 10:30 a.m. in the Dinkytown district of Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota. A woman was sitting in the driver’s side of her car near 6th Street and 10th Avenue Southeast when a man approached and attempted to pull her into the back seat. She fought him off, and he ran away.

Investigators believe the description she gave matched that of other suspects in attempted sexual assaults in the city.

“The suspect is described as a white male, 30 or 40 years of age, with a possible beard, wearing a hoodie pulled up over his head. He was wearing dark-colored pants,” Public Information Officer John Elder said. “We believe this individual is responsible for similar assaults in metro Minneapolis since 2018.”

Police have not specified how many attacks have happened, but it was clear from their tone and urgency Thursday that they have good reason to believe this man is a major threat — and some are ready to fight back.

Students are on the defense near the U of M campus. The Andrew Riverside Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Collaboration Studio, which meets in Andrew Riverside Presbyterian church, is just feet away from the scene of multiple sexual assaults. Pastor Kathy Smith says she strives to strengthen her community.

“One of the best defenses we have against violent crimes is a good, strong neighborhood, and community building is what we do,” Smith said.

And that means strengthening students, like U of M senior Kai Johnson. She was alerted via email that there was another sexual assault.

“We get emails every time, and like it’s always scary when it happens, but it’s almost normal because it’s happened so many times,” Johnson said.

“She did fight him off, and he fled,” Elder said.

A move that impressed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor David Soto.

“You can try to deescalate it and leave, and there’s another situation where there’s nothing left but to defend yourself, and I’m really glad to hear she’s a brave woman, you know, defending herself,” Soto said.

Andrew Riverside Jiu-Jitsu, which was founded by Takashi Teoh, has self-defense classes for men and women.

“It definitely makes me more aware, like when I go out if I’m by myself,” Johnson said. “I really avoid that if at all possible.”

Police say everyone needs to be alert and on guard. They are asking people in this area to be very careful in parking ramps, garages and any place they could be cornered — and at any time of day. They believe this attacker is brazen.

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