Watch: Tampa woman fights off attacker inside gym at apartment complex
TAMPA, Fla. - Surveillance video caught the moments a stranger started attacking a Tampa woman and her efforts to fight back inside an apartment complex gym.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office released video Wednesday from the incident back on January 22. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister called the attack "disgusting," but was grateful 24-year-old Nashali Alma came forward.
Investigators said they responded to the Inwood Park Apartment on West Waters Avenue moments after the attack occurred. Court records show the suspect, 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones, lives at the apartment complex.
Alma told deputies she was exercising alone that night. Around 10:40 p.m., she let the suspect inside the gym. Deputies said Alma had seen him at the gym previously, which is why she opened the door for him.
Hillsborough deputies said Alma was lifting weights when Thomas-Jones approached her and tried to grab her waist. She yelled at him and told him to get away from her, but he chased her around the gym at the apartment complex.
That's when Thomas-Jones grabbed Alma and pinned her on the floor, deputies said. Alma can be seen on surveillance video trying to fight off the suspect while also trying to call 911 for help. The ordeal was captured on the gym's surveillance cameras – which can be viewed below. Thomas-Jones also identified himself from the video, according to the arrest affidavit.
Alma said when the attack happened, she knew she could fight back.
"When it was happening, I actually had no fear," Alma said. "I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me."
Screenshot of Alma during her interview with FOX 13.
She said she believes she tired him out.
"The more fight you put the more they want to give up and just told," she explained. "If I keep going, I keep pushing, he's going to stop. He's going to let go and he finally did."
Booking image for Xavier Thomas-Jones
Thomas-Jones eventually released his grip on her, and Alma ran out of the gym to a nearby apartment, HCSO officials said.
As deputies were searching for him, Thomas-Jones returned to the apartment complex. The next day, around noon, deputies said he watched another woman on her balcony "for several minutes" before knocking on her apartment's front door.
She answered, unaware Thomas-Jones was observing her just moments before, according to the suspect's arrest affidavit. He asked her if she wanted to "hang out," to which she replied, "Who the f--- are you?"
Deputies said she began to panic and Thomas-Jones took four steps into her home. It alerted her fiancée who chased the suspect away from the apartment and took a video of him.
Deputies said they were able to track down the suspect, and he was arrested in less than 24 hours. The second victim – who was not identified in the affidavit – and her significant other identified Thomas-Jones in a live show-up.
In court documents, Thomas-Jones admitted to restraining and battering the first victim because he wanted to have sex with her. As for the second victim, deputies said he went to the front door because he thought the victim was "pretty" and had sexual intentions with her as well.
He is facing charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment, burglary, and kidnappings, investigators said. As of Thursday morning, Thomas-Jones remains in Faulkenburg Jail.