Newly-released video showed a woman fighting off a man who attacked her inside her Tampa, Florida, apartment complex gym last month.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Nashali Alma, 24, was exercising alone at a gym before she let the suspect, identified as Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, inside on January 22. Alma allowed him in because she had seen him at the facility previously, according to authorities.
While Alma continued her workout, footage – which was released this week – showed Thomas-Jones in a Detroit Red Wings jersey approaching her and trying to grab her waist. She yelled and demanded he get away from her, but he continued to chase her.
At one point, Thomas-Jones was seen grabbing Alma as she kept hitting his head and pinned her to the floor, the video showed. He eventually let her go and she immediately ran out of the gym. She got in touch with authorities and deputies were able to track Thomas-Jones and arrest him in less than 24 hours, according to the sheriff’s office.
In a criminal affidavit, Thomas-Jones had a similar incident the day after the gym attack. Authorities said Thomas-Jones knocked on a different woman’s door after allegedly watching her for several minutes on her balcony. He took multiple steps into her apartment, but was chased away by the woman’s fiance, deputies said.
Thomas-Jones faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping, authorities said.
The sheriff’s office featured Alma in a video, where she encouraged other women who have experienced similar incidents to speak out.
“My advice would be to never give up,” she said. “My parents always told me in life to never give up on anything, and that’s one thing I always kept in mind while I was fighting him.”
Alma said she saw when authorities caught Thomas-Jones.
“The day they caught him, I saw the whole thing go down,” she said. “It was a relief knowing that someone like him is put into jail and probably won’t be out anytime soon. It feels amazing. No other person should go through this.”