UT student fends off would-be robber with pepper spray

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee and its police department are warning students to be aware after a student was able to escape an attempted robbery Tuesday night outside a campus parking garage.

UTK officials shared a safety notice with students after the incident, which occurred outside the G-11 Parking Garage off Lake Avenue. The student involved in the incident was unharmed.

According to safety notice, on Tuesday, Aug. 30 around 9:30 pm the University of Tennessee Police Department received a report of an attempted robbery. A student reported to UTPD that while they were walking eastbound on the sidewalk attached to the parking garage, they were approached from behind by a suspect described in the notice as “an older individual wearing a black hoodie and black pants.”

The suspect attempted to forcibly take the student’s belongings. The student sprayed the suspect with pepper spray and safely fled the scene to call the police. UTPD officers responded to the area, but they were unable to locate the suspect.

The investigation is ongoing.

The UTPD encourages students and staff to download the Campus Safety App – LiveSafe – because it essentially turns smartphones into personal safety devices in order to report emergencies, non-emergencies and suspicious activity plus access services and resources.

Other information shared by UTPD in the safety notice included the following:

Information we want you to know about your safety and the safety of all volunteers.

  • Report criminal or suspicious activity on the LiveSafe app or by calling UTPD at 865-974-3111. Download the app from the UT website.
  • Report criminal incidents as soon as possible so appropriate measures can be taken for your safety and the safety of others.
  • If you see something that doesn’t look right or makes you feel concerned, please report that as well.
  • Learn how to help others by being an active bystander.


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