**Sept. 7 update: Other media outlets have reported that the two students who reported similar off-campus sexual assaults were both Loyola students. Nola.com reported Friday night that university officials had confirmed both reports were made by Loyola students.
Director of University Police Todd Warren said the two “could be” connected.
LUPD warned students of the assaults in two separate emails over the past two weeks. In the latest incident, a victim woke up on the railroad tracks near South Carrollton and Leake Avenues near Cooter Brown’s in the early morning of Thursday, Sept. 5.
The assault had similarities to a crime that took place on Aug. 24. In both incidents, the victims were approached by a man at The Boot Bar and Grill and were taken to secondary locations where they were sexually assaulted, LUPD said.
Descriptions of the suspects sent to students were similar, and Warren confirmed he believed the suspect could be the same perpetrator.
In both incidents, the male suspect was described as having light complexion, average height and weight, having short, curly brown hair and speaking English with a Spanish accent, and self-identified as a “student.”
Warren said that in one instance the suspect identified himself as a Loyola student, while in the other he identified himself at a Tulane student. Warren says police have not been able to confirm whether or not the suspect is a student at either institution, or a student at all.
Additionally, Warren said that both assaults have “multiple suspects involved,” but no description of other suspects is available.
While Warren would not confirm if either victim was a Loyola student, he stated, on Friday, that incident reports were filed with LUPD in both cases. He added that while Tulane University police have helped ramp up police presence around campus in response to the assaults, incident reports have not been filed with the department.
Since the latest email alert, which was sent to Loyola students Thursday afternoon, LUPD has received “four to five good pieces of information,” in the cases, according to Warren.
In the alert, police said that multiple students have reported consuming drugged drinks while at The Boot.
Warren said he “feels confident” about three individual cases of students reporting drugged drinks at the Uptown bar.
The cases began during the first week of school, before the first assault was reported, and Warren said he feels that while drugged drinks have always been an issue at the bar scene, three reports in three weeks is unusually high.
“We sure didn’t have that last year,” Warren said.
In the Aug. 24 assault, Warren said he was not sure if the victim had been drugged, but believes that the latest victim had been.
In response to the perceived uptick in crime, Warren said both LUPD and TUPD are increasing their presence in the area. Warren said the two departments are “talking every day,” to coordinate patrol efforts.
LUPD officers are working overtime throughout evenings and weekends until there is some “closure” in the assaults, Warren said.
He also did not believe university police could rely on Boot security to keep students safe.
“I think The Boot is somewhat of a target rich environment,” Warren said.
The Boot could not be reached for comment.
While Warren said he doesn’t want students to live in fear of the attacks, he encourages students to go out in large groups and stay vigilant.
“We’re dealing with predators,” Warren said. “Really watch the club scenes for right now.”