DEVELOPING: Suspect remains at large for sexual batteries, home invasions in USF area

Deputies are continuing to investigate in the USF area as a suspect remains at large in what reported to be a string of armed home invasions and sexual batteries.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) reportedly received a call from Florida Hospital at 11 p.m. Thursday reporting that two females had just been sexually battered at Cambridge Wood Apartments off 42nd street.

The suspect, described as a black male between his 20s and 30s, reportedly entered the apartment and bound four male occupants with duct tape and sexually battered four adult females.

The suspect then reportedly invaded the apartment of a female at Eagle’s Point apartment before fleeing to Oaks Apartments on foot, where he forced 25 people attending a party into a room at gunpoint and fired at least one round into the carpet.

The suspect was reportedly chased out by a male, who the suspect fired at least three rounds at, but did not hit.

USF sent out an emergency notification early this morning warning students and faculty of an “unsafe” situation, but sent out a second alert stating the “event was over.”

HCSO public information officer Larry McKinnon said the suspect remains at large, but that police used K9s and helicopters to search the area until 3:30 a.m., including searching vehicles and nearby apartments and alerting cab companies. McKinnon said he is confident the suspect will be found soon.

“Currently a score of HCSO detectives and crime scene investigators are on scene conducting interviews and processing forensic evidence,” he said in an email statement. “These attacks appear to be all connected and at random.”

University Police spokesman Lt. Chris Daniel said the university determines when to send out emergency notifications based on the threat posed to the USF community. Sometimes issuing an “all clear” is a difficult call to make, he said, as the threat to the USF community could be less even if an investigation is ongoing.

McKinnon said he advised students to keep their apartment and vehicle doors locked at all times, as the suspect was able to enter unlocked doors.

Extra security will remain in the area, he said, as the search continues.