Officials investigate possible connection between Minneapolis, Fridley sexual assaults

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Police officials are saying the sexual assault of a woman in Fridley Saturday afternoon may be connected to a similar assault in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota early Sunday morning, WCCO reported.

Authorities said a 32-year-old woman walking alone to her car in Fridley on Saturday afternoon was approached by a man in an SUV who identified himself as an officer. The man then kidnapped and sexually assaulted the woman before releasing her, the Anoka County Sheriff's Office said.

Anoka County officials described the suspect in the assault as a 6-foot-tall, 190-pound black man, who was driving a smaller, dark-colored SUV. The suspect was wearing a dark cap, dark sweatshirt, dark sunglasses and blue jeans, authorities said.

U of M police said in an early Sunday morning incident, a 22-year-old female student was walking just off campus when she was approached by a man impersonating an officer in an SUV.

Heeding the warning from the man about the dangers of walking alone, the woman got into his vehicle, only to be kidnapped and sexually assaulted before being released, officials said.

According to the Pioneer Press, U of M police initially said the man identified himself as an officer. On Monday, U of M officials clarified that the man spoke authoritatively and wore a badge, but didn't state verbally that he was an officer.

Police described the suspect in the Minneapolis assault as a black male about 23 to 27 years old with a medium build, short hair or a shaved head, and a trimmed chinstrap style beard. The suspect was also wearing a dark jacket with a badge on it, and dark pants with a security or police-style belt, according to officials.

U of M police said the suspect’s vehicle is a dark SUV with a dark interior and a computer screen in the center console.

Anoka County officials a issued a press release reminding the public "that any real police officer will identify the name of the law enforcement agency they work for, and will carry a badge and identification credentials."

"If you are approached by a person claiming to be a police officer you may ask to see the officer’s credentials and if the officer is in plain clothes or an unmarked vehicle you can always call 911 to verify the officer’s credentials or ask for a uniformed officer in a marked squad before cooperating with that officer," the press release said.

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