Editors’ note: This story includes mention of sexual assault.
Gainesville and UF Police Departments are searching for a man accused of battery after he was reported for following women and touching them inappropriately near Florida State University’s campus.
The battery occurred Jan. 29, and the FSU Police Department has since issued an arrest warrant against Vincent Steven Mickelsen, 36. Mickelsen was then spotted by UF students near Midtown Feb. 12.
UF sent out a public safety alert Feb. 15 on Twitter with a description of Mickelsen and a situational awareness alert.
UPD Lt. Jacob Pruitt said UF was notified Mickelsen was spotted in the area and released a public information bulletin about him. UFPD will execute the warrant from FSUPD and arrest Mickelsen if he is found, Pruitt said. However, as of Wednesday, Pruitt said he isn’t aware of any reports of Mickelsen following anyone home at UF.
Mickelsen has not been arrested and UFPD and the Gainesville Police Department are asking the community to help locate him, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando wrote in a text message. Local law enforcement is working with FSUPD, he wrote.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” Orlando wrote.
UF students and Gainesville residents have circulated posts on Facebook and other social media claiming to have seen and encountered the suspect on UF’s campus. As of now, those rumors have not been proven.
“Contrary to some social media posts, he’s not a serial rapist and he has not been spotted anywhere on campus,” Orlando wrote.
FSUPD said Mickelsen has rented a hotel in Tallahassee three times since December. The department identified a Tennessee address, drivers license and license tag that belong to Mickelsen, FSUPD spokesperson John Baker said.
On Jan. 29, Mickelsen checked into the same hotel again, which was the day of the suspected battery.
At around 2 a.m. that morning, an 18-year-old freshman at FSU said Mickelsen followed her and a friend home from Clydes & Costello’s, a bar in Tallahassee. She asked to remain anonymous because she is now part of the ongoing battery investigation and fears for her safety.
She said she and her friend were returning home from the bar when he approached them. She said he told them they were the most beautiful girls he had seen and that he was 24-years-old.
She said Mickelsen touched her friend on her butt. This incident is what ultimately led to Mickelsen’s arrest warrant. He offered the student and her friend mittens and asked her to wear them. She said she proceeded to put them on.
They started to walk away, but Mickelsen followed them, she said.
The student said she and her friend asked him why he was walking toward the dorms, but Mickelsen avoided the question and chased them as they ran inside.
The 18-year-old said as they ran up the stairs, Mickelsen cornered her. All she remembers is him telling her to take her mask off so he could kiss her before she escaped to her dorm.
The next night, she said she saw him again, this time following other women. She contacted FSUPD and told them about her and her friend's experiences.
On Feb. 11, FSUPD received reports that Mickelsen was in another Tallahassee bar, Baker said. Police brought him in for questioning, but because they could not positively identify if the man was Mickelsen at the time, they released him. By the time police identified him the next morning, he had checked out of his hotel and left.
FSU investigators have tried to call Mickelsen to get in contact, but have received no response. FSUPD posted on social media warning students to contact police if they saw him.
UFPD advised the public to not approach Mickelsen and instead call UFPD at 352-392-1111.
Contact Anna Wilder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anna_wilderr.
Anna Wilder is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter. She's from Melbourne, Florida, and she enjoys being outdoors or playing the viola when she's not writing.