A student attending St. Catherine University is recovering after she was dragged into the woods and sexually assaulted Monday morning near Riverside Park on her way to campus.
According to Minneapolis police, officers responded to the area of West River Parkway and 27th Avenue South at about 7 a.m. on Monday.
Investigators learned a woman was walking to St. Kate's when a man asked her for money. Seconds later, she was forced into the woods and assaulted.
"This is a very unique sexual assault, not the type we have seen within several years," said Lt. Nancy Dunlap, with the Minneapolis Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit. "I have not seen any like this."
The victim ran away after the assault and was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Alerts were sent out to students and staff at St. Catherine University, which is just two blocks away.
"It's scary because it was at 7 a.m., and a lot of us walk alone to school," Cindy Fisher, a student who also cuts through Riverside Park each day, told FOX 9 News.
Alerts were also sent out at other nearby schools, urging students to be careful and use the buddy system when walking -- which is common in the area.
"There is no parking so we all have a three to four block walk every day, whether it be throughout the park or across the bridge from 94," said student Cele Rosen.
Police say the victim struggled to get away from her attacker, but was held with a weapon and forced into a secluded area of the woods along a path. Nearby witnesses could not see her, but Dunlap said they heard her scream.
"The victim ran up ... clearly distraught. They stayed with the victim and assisted her," Dunlap explained.
Now, students are spreading the word and hoping an arrest is made soon.
"We have a friend who parks down near the river and cuts up the same path as this gal did and she does it every day," says Fisher. "I said, 'Please don't do that anymore.'"
The case has been assigned to Sgt. David Mattson of the Minneapolis Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit. Anybody with information is asked to call 612-673-2358.
Crime Stoppers of Minnesota is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information. Tips can be made in any of the following ways:
All callers are given a unique identifier and no names are used.