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Columbia police investigating forcible rape in parking garage

Columbia police are looking for a suspect after a forcible rape early Saturday morning in a downtown parking garage.

Just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, an officer was dispatched to University Hospital for a rape investigation.

The 21-year-old female victim told him she left a bar on East Broadway near Hitt Street and walked alone to her car in the Tenth and Cherry parking garage.

She told police she was forced into her car and sexually assaulted by a male suspect. After a few minutes, she allegedly said she was able to get away and the suspect left.

All of the Columbia parking garages are equipped with cameras.

They are strategically placed to capture anyone coming into the garage and out.

“We want to make sure we capture exactly what they would want,” said Steven Sapp with Columbia Public Works.

The cameras on each level of the garage are recording 24-7.

They are high resolution to help better capture facial features.

“From a facial recognition perspective we can zoom in and things to enhance that video so for the most part they are pretty good cameras,” said Sapp.

However, even with the camera some people still do not feel safe in the garages at night.

“It’s pretty terrifying you walking with you keys between your knuckles every single night,” said Cat Howd.

Cat Howd parks in a downtown parking garage six times a week and leaves work around midnight.

“I’m about to pick up some mace and stuff like that. And definitely leaving with my employees- not going to leave them on their own,” said Howd.

The suspect is described as a white man, 5’10”, 170 lbs, with short dark blonde or light brown hair, thick eyebrows, wearing jeans and a long sleeve button up shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS.

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