TAMPA – A woman shares her experience after bravely fighting off a man who physically assaulted her in her apartment complex’s gym.
On January 22, 2023, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Inwood Park Apartment Complex to investigate an assault. Upon arrival, deputies spoke to Nashali Alma, 24, who told them she escaped a man who attacked her in the gym.
Alma said she was exercising alone before letting the suspect into the gym. She explained that she opened the door for him because he was someone she’d seen previously in the gym. As Alma continued her workout, the suspect, Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, approached her and attempted to grab her waist.
She yelled at him, demanding to get away from her, but he continued to chase her around the gym.
Thomas-Jones then grabbed Alma and pinned her on the floor. She continued to fight him off while attempting to call 911. Eventually, he released his grip on Alma, and she immediately ran out of the gym to a nearby apartment.
Through investigative means, deputies were able to track Thomas-Jones down and arrest him less than 24 hours later.
Alma wanted to speak out about her experience to encourage other women who’ve dealt with similar incidents to speak out.
“I would tell every woman always to keep fighting, never give up,” said Alma. “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.”
“I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “This woman’s strength, courage, and determination are inspiring. I know that her bravery to share this story will impact the lives of many other women.”
Thomas-Jones was arrested on January 23, 2023; he faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment, and kidnapping.
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