Tempe police believe alcohol a factor in 3 recent sex crimes

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
Mohammed Alshahrani By Jennifer Thomas Mohammed Alshahrani By Jennifer Thomas

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe police say excessive alcohol is believed to be a factor in three recent sex crimes cases near Arizona State University.

The latest happened early Saturday morning at The District on Apache apartment building. Police said a woman woke up to find a strange man touching her breast. Officers said the man walked in through an unlocked door.

Police still need help identifying and locating the suspect, described as a white or light-skinned Hispanic male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, approximately 180 pounds, last seen wearing a blue short-sleeve polo shirt and possibly gray shorts.

“It’s really scary,” said Kiersten Shew, who told 3TV a man matching the same suspect description walked into her friend’s apartment through an unlocked door a couple of hours earlier.

“Some random guy walked through the door,” Shew said. “We asked him what he needed. He just looked at us, looked around, and said, ‘Oh, sorry; wrong room.’”

Police believe the man may have been intoxicated at the time and say it’s one of three recent alcohol-related sex crimes.

On Friday night, police said a woman reported a man sexually assaulted her while at a party at 922 Place, an apartment building across the street from The District. Officers said the victim indicated she had a lot to drink and lost memory. She declined to press charges.

On Sept. 13, Tempe police arrested a suspect, Mohammed Alshahrani, on charges including sexual assault and kidnapping after investigators say he sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend.  According to a statement for probable cause, police say Alshahrani told officers he was “black out drunk,” and does crazy things when drunk.

“It’s the level of intoxication we’re seeing that I think is leading to these situations where people are becoming victims,” said Sgt. Steve Carbajal of the Tempe Police Department.

Tempe police report there were 24 sexual assaults from January through May 2013. Of those assaults, 71 percent involved alcohol or drugs and 50 percent occurred in what police call the “loud party corridor,” an area from Rural to Price roads and from Broadway Road to University Drive.

In a statement, Tempe police Chief Tom Ryff said, “These events underscore the importance of the Safe and Sober Operation. As Chief, I remain steadfast in my pursuit to reduce alcohol related crimes and violence in our community.”