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Unknown man breaks into off-campus residence

Three off-campus students experienced their worst nightmare when an intoxicated man wandered into their home early Feb. 9.

Senior Rachel Brock woke up when the light in her bedroom turned on around 3:30 a.m. She turned over to find a man standing in her doorway. The light turned off.

“Oh, I think I’m lost,” the man said. He then asked to use her phone.

Brock responded with sternness instead of fear. At first she thought the man was a drunken college student, but she soon realized that he was a stranger.

“He asked me if I was alone,” Brock said. “That was when I was getting scared.”

She started to question his motives and decided it was time to get him out of her room. She told him to wait on the couch in the living room right outside her room. He grabbed at her clothing, so she pushed him out of the doorway and screamed as she ran downstairs to awaken her housemate, Hannah Tower.

Tower could not hear Brock until she was screaming right outside her bedroom door.

“I woke up in a panic,” Tower said.

Tower called 911, and within two minutes a police officer arrived at their home. In the meantime, both girls slowly crept back upstairs.

“I wanted to find a baseball bat, but we didn’t have one,” Tower said. “I thought about grabbing my hairspray.”

The man was already gone.

The police told Brock that the intruder fell three or four times in their front yard before he disappeared. A K-9 unit followed the man’s scent trail but lost it in an area with high foot traffic.

Brock was asked to give a physical description of the intruder, but she quickly forgot what he looked like.

“I wish I would have known to pay attention to any physical features he had,” she said. “Once the adrenaline is gone, you don’t remember.”

Lt. Tory Jacobson, public information officer for the Moorhead Police Department, said the incident is under investigation, but there are no new developments.

Bill MacDonald, director of public safety, said the campus reached the residents of the home by 11 a.m. and offered assistance such as alternative housing, different parking arrangements and time off from classes.

Campus security sent out a timely notice by 10 a.m. with some details about the event. It was not initially clear through the email that Concordia students were involved.

He said the campus has responded with extra safety precautions in response to the break-in. In the days following the incident, public safety added a third officer and an extra vehicle to answer SafeWalk requests.

“We see a peak in requests for SafeWalks when we put out timely notices,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said public safety receives one to two SafeWalk requests a night. Between the Feb. 9 and Feb. 14, they received 21 total requests.

Students who are located within three or four blocks of campus can request a public safety officer to escort them from one location to another. Since the break-in, MacDonald said.members of the Concordia community may be able to receive assistance outside of the normal range.

SafeWalk requests out side of the normal zone will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

After the local news stations interviewed Brock, professors and fellow students showered her with supportive emails and texts. Some told her that they would keep her in their thoughts and prayers.

“A lot of people didn’t know it happened to a Concordia student,” Brock said.

Others expressed concern that her experience is their worst fear.

“Thank goodness he was short and very drunk,” Brock said. “I’m so grateful that nothing worse happened.”

MacDonald said there have been two major incidents involving Concordia students on average every academic year since he started his job at Concordia in 2008. Many incidents involve unsafe behaviors.

“It always ties into personal safety recommendations,” MacDonald said. “We want people to lock their doors, use SafeWalk and park in well-lit areas.”

On the night the intruder showed up in Brock’s room, a housemate left the door unlocked when she left the house. Brock said even though members of her house always keep the door locked at night, they “just got lazy about the lock.”

Since the break-in, no one has forgotten to lock the door.

While things are returning to normal for most members of the house, Brock still sleeps at her parents’ house. Nightmares haunt her while she sleeps.

“It’s gonna take a couple of weeks to feel comfortable in my own home,” she said. “I feel really vulnerable in my own bedroom.”

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