Wed, Jul 24, 2024
Woman says stranger sexually assaulted her after she left Westside gym

Woman says stranger sexually assaulted her after she left Westside gym

  • PublishedMay 31, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who said she was sexually assaulted after leaving the gym on the Westside is sharing her story to warn about a neighborhood crime alert.

Zakiyyah Pippins, 28, is shaken up by the frightening encounter that happened outside Bailey’s Health and Fitness in a shopping plaza on 103rd Street near Blanding Boulevard.

She said last Friday around midnight, she pulled into the parking lot to work out at the 24-hour gym. Before she went inside, she said she noticed a man, who is believed to be homeless, was acting odd.

Pippins described the man as someone with braids, a “weird hairline” and missing teeth.

“He saw my car and he walked up beside my car and was looking at me weirdly. He eventually walked off, so I thought I was safe to go inside the gym,” Pippins said.

Pippins said she went inside and spent three hours in the gym and didn’t think about the man anymore.

But when she returned to her car, she said the man was waiting for her.

“I walked toward my car, and I noticed that he was walking beside me really fast. Thank God I had my phone in my hand already and I was able to dial my husband. As I’m dialing him, the man grabbed my arm and grabbed me close to him,” Pippins said.

Pippins said the man proceeded to grope her before pulling her away from the direction of her car. She said fought back and ran into the gym to call the police.

She said the whole assault lasted about 25 seconds.

“It happened so fast. I wasn’t expecting someone to do that. I never thought that would happen to me,” Pippins said. “I can’t believe somebody like that touched me.”

A spokesperson for Chuze Fitness, the parent company of Bailey’s gym told news4JAX she was horrified when it learned about what happened to Pippins.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent safety matter outside our gym at 3 am on May 24, 2024. The safety and well-being of our members is our top priority. While we cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation, we are partnering with our landlord and property management to review security measures to further enhance the safety of our members,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

New4JAX Crime and Safety Analyst Tom Hackney said everyone should be aware of their surroundings, but there are times when an attacker may force an unsuspecting victim to fight for their life.

“Be as safe as you possibly can and if it means being armed, doing it safely and knowing how to carry that. You can always take a step back and use other means like pepper spray, self-defense classes, or anything like that,” Hackney said. “It’s not just a female thing, anyone can do these things and try to keep themselves safe as possible.”

Pippins said other people without homes witnessed what happened and didn’t intervene.

By the time the police arrived, they had all left.

If you have any information about this incident, call 904-630-0500.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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