Man arrested in kidnapping, sexual assault may have had prior reports

By Bianca Cseke | October 30th, 2017

Photo from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

There may have been several prior reports of suspicious situations involving Juhjuan Washington, the 21-year-old man the Metropolitan Police Department arrested Oct. 22 in connection with the Oct. 20 kidnapping and sexual assault of a UNLV student.

 

The UNLV student was taking things out of her vehicle in the Cottage Grove Parking Garage at about 6:15 a.m. when a man forced her to drive him to two different locations, UNLV Police Services said. He then forced her, at gunpoint, to perform sexual acts on him with her feet, police said.

 

“It looks like there are previous reports in the prior weeks where it looks like he might be involved,” Police Services Detective Paul Velez said.

 

Washington was transported to the Clark County Detention Center, where he faces charges of two counts of kidnapping with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, coercion with force or threat of force, robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of a gun, grand larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle, six counts of open and gross lewdness and attempt to destroy or conceal evidence, according to Metro.

 

Velez would not elaborate on what the prior reports involved, saying that Metro is handling the case and that it is an ongoing investigation.

 

At least one other UNLV student had encountered Washington before, however.

 

A student reported Washington before Oct. 20 incident

 

The student, who would only speak on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, said she had seen Washington on two separate occasions about a week before the Oct. 20 incident happened to the other student.

 

“I was walking to my car in the Cottage Grove Parking Garage on the second floor at about 6 p.m., and as I walk up the stairs and put my bag inside the backseat of my car, I see him [Washington] looking at me and walking towards me,” she said. “I recognized him because I saw him the day earlier when I was leaving on Friday at about 8 p.m., but he was wandering around on the third floor that day. When I saw him on Saturday, I immediately closed my door and got in my car, locking all doors, turning my car on and putting it in reverse about to leave. I turn around and he’s standing at my door with his face in the window and he knocks on it, saying ‘I need you to get out of your car and talk to you about something.’ I didn’t get out but just asked, ‘why would I need to get out of my car then?” He hesitated for a moment before saying, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I’m with UNLV witness protection and I just wanted to tell you to stay safe out there because two girls got robbed the other day.’”

 

UNLV does not have a witness protection program.

 

The student said she knew the situation was suspicious because he had no card or identification, so she called Police Services as soon as she pulled into her driveway at home.

 

“When I heard about the report the next week about what he did to another student, I had a very strong suspicion that it was him, and after I saw the surveillance photos I still could not say for sure,” she said. “But once I saw the mugshots that were released, I instantly recognized that same face glaring at me through the glass.”

 

Velez said incidents like these are hit-or-miss situations.

 

“It’s one of those things where you try to deter people with the presence of officers, but sometimes you’re in the area when it happens and sometimes you’re not,” he said. “Officers frequent the parking garages and dorm areas, but we all know the geography of the campus. There are no fences or walls, which sometimes prevents us from stopping these things.”

 

Making campus safer

 

In response to the Oct. 20 incident, Police Services said it increased its uniform presence, especially at night. Officers from the College of Southern Nevada also came to assist, and UNLV officers were working overtime hours through last Tuesday, Velez said.

 

UNLV Chief of Police Jose Elique said the incident was probably the most serious crime that happened on campus since he came to the university in 2000. He is trying to expand the number of officers serving UNLV.

 

Hiring more officers isn’t a quick and easy process, however.

 

First, there’s the all-too-common issue of finding enough funding. Elique said it costs about $846,000 over a one-year period to hire just one officer, and he eventually wants to get 10 additional officers and two additional sergeants. The cost includes the recruitment process, training, equipment and salary.

 

“We will become more aggressive in determining who doesn’t belong here,” Elique said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll get enough funding to get these additional officers. It’s been needed for a long time.”

 

It wasn’t clear how long it would take to find out if funding for the new hires would be available.

 

Other campus safety issues, such as lighting, aren’t necessarily up to Police Services.

 

Velez said increasing lighting on campus is ultimately Facilities Maintenance call.

 

“We wish it were possible for campus to always be lit up as if it were daytime, but that’s not possible.”

 

There have been some lighting improvements, however. The new emergency phones that have been installed throughout campus, a project funded in large part by CSUN, come with significantly brighter lighting than the old ones. Liberal Arts Senator Samantha Bivins said one of her focuses for her term this year will be to further improve campus lighting.

 

The student who had seen Washington on campus prior to the Oct. 20 incident said she wishes Police Services would’ve take some additional steps.

 

“It seemed like that guy was able to just wander around watching and waiting when the garage wouldn’t be as occupied because I only saw him two days in a row on weekend nights,” she said. “I used to park at Cottage Grove every weekday and would leave at around the same time or even later, and I didn’t see him before that Friday night.”

 

The student also said Police Services never followed up with her after she placed her call, and that she hasn’t parked in the Cottage Grove Parking Garage since the encounter because she doesn’t feel safe.

 

Prior incidents

 

There was another incident involving a man matching Washington’s description the day before the Oct. 20 incident, though the former did not

Photo from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

occur at UNLV.

 

The man pointed a gun at a 32-year-old woman about 5:30 a.m. on the 2100 block of Sealion Drive, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Buffalo Drive, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported based on court documents. He had the woman drive him around, asking if they could go “somewhere dark.” He got mad when she refused, telling her to get out of her car and drove off with it.

 

Through an investigation, Metro discovered that Washington matched the description of a suspect in other incidents that occurred earlier this month, according to a news release prepared by Metro. He also has a prior arrest from September.

 

The Review-Journal also reported that a man matching Washington’s description touched or tried to abduct UNLV students in three other reported incidents, which occurred between Oct. 7 and Oct. 14. Police responded to two calls about robberies and a call about a person who placed a student’s foot in his mouth.

 

Metro’s investigation is ongoing and detectives believe there may be more victims who have yet to be identified. Anyone with any information may contact Metro at 702-828-3421. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.


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