A University Police investigation of two indecent exposures that took place on McKeldin Library's seventh floor in the past two weeks has led to a person of interest in the case and prompted heightened security.
The incidents, which took place on Feb. 17 and Feb. 23, both involved a man exposing himself to University of Maryland students in the library, according to police reports. The first occurred at a desk, and the second took place in the men's bathroom.
In the first incident, a witness described the perpetrator as a 40-year-old man with facial hair wearing a red knit hat and black jacket. The victim of the second incident was not able to give a description. Though police are actively investigating each case, spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas said they can't confirm whether the same perpetrator was responsible for both incidents.
A review of camera footage helped police identify a person of interest who matches the first description, Hoaas said. A detective is scheduled to speak with this person within the next few days.
In response to these two disturbances, University Police have increased the frequency of their walkthroughs in McKeldin, Hoaas said. The student Police Auxiliary, who are typically stationed at McKeldin during evening hours, have upped their number of walkthroughs as well.
Although police are doing what they can to maintain a safe environment, Hoaas said, they can understand why students may be wary of the seventh floor in the short run.
"Any time there is an incident like this, there is a little hesitation after it happens," Hoaas said. "We're here to protect our community, and that's why we're walking around to see if there is anything out of the ordinary."
Freshman Lucas Thompson, who is enrolled in letters and sciences, was with friends on the seventh floor when the second indecent exposure took place. He typically spends four days a week studying in McKeldin.
"It's really all I've been thinking of," Thompson said. "I keep on thinking about how, if I had chosen to go to the bathroom at that time, it could have happened to me."
He did not find out about the incident until a friend told him the following day, Thompson said. While he has continued to study at McKeldin since then, he has avoided the bathrooms and seventh floor entirely.
"I haven't gone to any of the bathrooms in the library since then," Thompson said. "The whole thing is just so gross."
Thompson said he has not noticed a difference in police walkthroughs or additional security since the incident.
Sara Kreshpanji, a senior biochemistry and economics major, typically studies on McKeldin's lower floors but knows other students have a preference for upper-level study spaces.
Kreshpanji has continued to study in the library since the exposures took place but stays away from the upper floors, she said. While she has not noticed an increase in police walkthroughs, she hopes that they pay more attention to the seventh floor.
"The higher floors give you a better opportunity to focus," Kreshpanji said. "I think it will deter people from studying up there if they aren't sure what's going on."