Multiple reports of suspicious activity seemingly targeting women in Oakland

A Pitt Police crime alert described two men allegedly exiting a car and chasing a woman from the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ruskin Avenue up to Ruskin Hall early Tuesday morning. A second, similar report details a woman screaming for help on Wednesday night on Atwood Street.


Pitt Police have reported responding to two possible incidences of men targeting women in Oakland this week. (TPN File Photo)

This post was updated Thursday at 2:08 p.m..

In the past week, multiple accounts that describe women being targeted while walking alone at night in Oakland have circulated social media.

In the first incident, two men exited a car and chased a woman from the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ruskin Avenue up to Ruskin Hall before leaving and driving away around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a crime alert Pitt police posted on its website Wednesday.

Police say the vehicle involved in Tuesday’s incident was a dark silver Honda with Illinois plates reading “H333063,” and the two men had tan skin, plain faces, short hair and were 20 to 30 years old, according to the crime alert.

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police responded to another suspicious incident Wednesday night after receiving 911 call placed by Point Park junior Mary Malone at about 9:50 p.m. Malone, who lives on Atwood Street near where the incident reportedly took place, described hearing a woman screaming outside her house, at which point she exited her house and called 911.

“I heard a girl screaming over and over again, saying ‘Help me’ and ‘Don’t touch me,’” Malone said in a phone interview. “I ran outside my basement to see what was happening, and the screaming and everything stopped and this car sped away really fast.”

Pitt police described the vehicle involved as a “small SUV,” which drove south on York Way from Atwood Street.

Pitt police issued another crime alert on Thursday morning at about 10:30 a.m. for an “armed threat” on Parkview Avenue at the Parkview Manor Apartments. Police described a confrontation between a maintenance employee and a male who requested entry to the building. When the employee refused, the individual showed a firearm in his waistband before fleeing.

[Read more: Pitt police issue crime report for ‘armed threat’]

Pitt’s Vice Chancellor of Communications Ellen Moran said in an interview that investigations are still underway into all three incidents. Moran confirmed there has been no missing persons report filed with the Pitt police at this time. Moran also said Pitt does not believe any of the incidents were related, but that it was not discrediting the possibility.

Early Thursday morning Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner sent an email to “Pitt parents and family” and Pitt’s Department of Public Safety sent an email to Pitt students alerting them of the incidents. Pitt police is increasing patrols in Oakland in response and the families of Pitt students were also made aware of the concern.

On the crime alert page, Pitt police recommended multiple methods of staying safe at night — walking with friends, keeping away from “suspicious persons and vehicles” and utilizing the University’s SafeRider and Rave Guardian services.

The incident described in the crime alert first circulated through social media and messaging platforms in a first-person account that described two men chasing after the woman. The writer of the post encouraged women to stay safe and walk together at night.

“I know plenty of us walk alone at night and have been fine doing so, so we think it is safe, but it’s not,” the post read.

Many students expressed frustration on social media that Pitt did not issue an alert via the emergency notification service.

Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick issued a statement Thursday afternoon sharing information about the incidents, along with public safety reminders.

“Per feedback from our Student Government Board, we are working to adopt a more proactive approach to crime alert communications. This may result in an uptick in alerts issued — including more notification of off-campus crime alerts,” the statement said.

Pitt police has not yet responded to phone calls or emails.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.