Female student assaulted at Montgomery College

By Dan Morse and Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Officials locked down the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College on Tuesday after a man sexually assaulted a female student in the performing arts center.

Montgomery County police received the initial report shortly after 3:30 p.m., authorities said. The lockdown ended about 90 minutes later, but students remained jittery as darkness fell on a campus where serious crime is rare.

"It's so quiet here," said Jonathan Chimah, 20, a pharmacy student who arrived to find the building for his class locked. "We never have stuff like this happen."

The campus is divided into east and west sections by train tracks.

Police said the attack happened in the west section, in the second-floor women's restroom of the performing arts center. The student is 19, according to police spokeswoman Melanie Brenner.

Reports of the incident set off a flurry of activity as police searched for a suspect. Both sections of the campus were shut down, as was the pedestrian bridge between them. Helicopters circled overhead.

Leilani Vitusagavulu, 18, learned of the attack when the closed bridge blocked her path between classes. She saw police outside the building to which she was headed. "I was confused, but I didn't really think something bad had happened."

About 8:40 p.m., police took a man into custody at a Silver Spring motel. He was being questioned Tuesday night.

The campus houses 6,500 of the college's 35,000 credit-earning students.

Staff reporter Daniel de Vise contributed to this report.

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