On Friday May 13, a student was attacked by a homeless man on a bike trail that passes near Bellevue College’s North Campus and is regularly used by students and employees. The Bellevue Police Department is investigating the case. Bellevue College’s Vice President of Administration Ray White sent out an email to the college community right after the incident happened. Even though the attack didn’t occur directly on campus, White stated that he thought a “reminder about vigilance and a ‘heads up’ about the area was better than no response.”
The attack is still an open investigation and the BPD is trying to catch the offender. He was described as a roughly 5-foot-8 inch Caucasian man with greyish hair who is approximately 40 years old. “We will follow the case and work with the police to learn what we can about recent incidents in that area,” promised White and added that Bellevue College will “seek their advice about any actions they think are appropriate for our nearby extension center.”
Program Manager Kintea Bryant uses the trail to get to North Campus in the morning since the first week of April after King County Metro changed the bus schedule. Due to these changes, Bryant and many other employees and students are not being dropped off on 148th Street anymore but have to walk to North Campus on the trail. In regard to the attack, Bryant states that she is “not scared to walk on the trail now, but will be more cautious.” She now rides her bike and doesn’t wear headphones to stay alert.
Since the trail isn’t located on campus and the incident is a BPD case, “there is not much that we can do about it but communicate what’s going on,” said Christopher Ma, executive director of continuing education at Bellevue College. “We are lucky that the student reported to us,” he explained, “there is a pretty good chance that we would not have heard about it if the student hadn’t talked to us directly.” When it comes to incidents like the attack, Ma thinks that the BPD and Bellevue College have to work closer together. According to him, students and staff using the trail regularly should stick together in groups and pay attention to their surroundings while walking.
White also had some advice on how to stay safe around and on campus. “One of the most important things you can do is to sign-up for free to receive emergency alerts in the event of a crisis or campus closure,” he suggested. Additionally, he recommended getting familiar with the Public Safety website to see historical crime statistics and visiting BPD’s website. Mentioning that BPD maintains a crime map, White suggested students and staff to monitor it “to see basic information about crimes in the area.”
Wanting to improve the outreach and response to students, the Office of Administrative Services is currently working on implementing several changes. This quarter, the Public Safety office will be moved “to a more central and visible location on the quad just south of the Library,” explained White. According to White, bigger future projects which are still in planning include bringing BPD bike patrols on and around campus and installing 10 additional emergency phones on “creepy spots” at the edges of the campus.