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UMass police warn about man committing lewd acts

AMHERST — University of Massachusetts police are warning students and staff about incidents Wednesday afternoon in which a man indecently exposed himself and committed lewd acts in front of two people.

Deputy Police Chief Patrick Archbald said Thursday that the first report of the suspicious behavior came at 2:57 p.m. Wednesday when a female student in Lot 25, between the Mullins Center and the UMass Parking Office, encountered the man, whose pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles while he was committing a lewd and lascivious act with no effort to conceal his behavior. A second female student reported a similar incident a short time later near the same location.

Archbald said in both cases the women had already parked their vehicles when a gold or tan four-door Honda Civic from the late 1980s or early 1990s pulled up alongside. The man then asked the women to come over to his vehicle, at which time he committed the indecent acts.

The man is described as white, in his late 20s to early 30s, with a medium to heavy build and possibly having an earring in his left ear.

He did not make any threats toward the women. “There’s been no threat of assault and no physical contact between the suspect and the victims,” Archbald said.

But police are concerned that may happen in the future. “Our fear is that he’s going to escalate from these acts,” Archbald said. “We’re going to actively pursue this case.”

UMass police are investigating whether the behavior is related to similar incidents in Sunderland on July 16. In those incidents, the suspect, driving a similar vehicle, lured the females to his car by asking for directions.

“Both occurred on Wednesdays around the same time. It’s definitely a pattern we’re pursuing in terms of our investigation,” Archbald said.

Archbald said people should avoid contact with the suspect and, if they do see him, immediately call police with a description of the vehicle, including a license plate number, and its direction of travel. Police have a partial Massachusetts plate including 497.

Anyone with information may call 545-8477, or submit information online at http://www.umass.edu/umpd/anonymouswitness/

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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