A Florida woman fiercely fought back against an attacker in a gym and offered advice to others in the same situation. (Please note the video below is disturbing.)
In surveillance footage released Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Nashali Alma is approached by the accused assailant, Xavier Thomas-Jones, in the workout area of their Tampa apartment complex.
The suspect attempts to grab her. Alma pushes him away, sparking a chase throughout the gym. She punches and pushes to keep him at bay, and uses exercise equipment as obstacles. As he wrestles her to the floor, she strikes him repeatedly. Pinned temporarily, she appears to stagger him with a blow to the head as he pulls her up. She then makes her escape.
“I would tell every woman always to keep fighting, never give up,” Alma said in a sheriff’s office video, per an NBC South Florida affiliate. “As long as you fight back and show him that you’re strong and you’re not giving up, I believe it’s possible to escape. It’s better to reach out to law enforcement sooner than later. The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.”
Alma told Fox 13 in Tampa that her fitness helped her escape from the harrowing situation. “When it was happening, I actually had no fear,” she said. “I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me.”
Thomas-Jones, a resident of the complex, was arrested on charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping, according to Tampa Bay’s CBS affiliate.
Thomas-Jones told investigators he intended to sexually assault Alma and admitted to battering her during the Jan. 22 attack, according to court documents cited by Fox 13.
Law enforcement tracked him down after he entered the apartment of another woman in the complex, but was frightened off by her boyfriend, Fox 13 reported.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.