PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Meghan Cowl and Abbie Wiinikainen were on their way home after a night out at their favorite bar when they were ambushed by a group of young men.
“We were walking by, laughing and minding our own business, then boom,” Cowl recalled.
The Providence College seniors were with both of their mothers at the time, who were visiting for parent’s weekend.
“We even made sure to walk through campus on our way back so we could avoid those not-so-safe areas,” Cowl said.
Cowl and Wiinikainen said the attack, which occurred this past weekend, was completely unprovoked and caught them all off guard.
“The people who attacked us were standing on the corner of the street and just came at us for no reason,” Cowl recalled.
One of the suspects shoved Cowl to the ground, injuring her leg.
“We were enjoying our time with our parents,” Wiinikainen said. “We weren’t even 500 feet off school property and this happened to us.”
Before Cowl or Wiinikainen could get a closer look at the assailants, they were gone.
They’re not alone.
Providence College Dean of Students Steven Sears tells 12 News there have been six assaults in the neighborhoods surrounding the college within the past week.
He said the number of physical assaults being reported within such a short amount of time is “real concerning.”
“We’re doing everything we can within our power to keep our students safe and the neighborhood safe,” he said.
Of the assaults, Sears said only two involved Providence College students, including the one reported by Cowl and Wiinikainen. The rest were all reported by students of other colleges and universities who live nearby.
Sears said several of the victims were robbed of their phones, wallets and other valuables.
In response to the attacks, Sears said the Providence Police Department has stepped up patrols in and around campus.
But Cowl said she’s not convinced, adding that a police cruiser was parked only a few feet away when the suspects approached them.
“Police are so quick to break up a party or put you in the back of a cop car for having an open container, but a more serious situation like this happens and they just brush it off and dismiss it,” Cowl said.
Sears urged students and members of the public who have any information regarding any of the recent assaults to contact Providence College Public Safety by calling (401) 865-2391 or emailing [email protected]