KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A University of Tennessee freshman had a rattling experience over the weekend. Some of it is caught on camera.
Lydia Ernst says she was attacked on campus right after Saturday’s football game. She told us a man she doesn’t know hit her multiple times. She says she was walking back to her dorm, near Melrose and Volunteer Boulevard when a typical college football Saturday turned frightening, fast. On Oct. 13, UT Police identified the suspect as Mark Alexander Bowman of Johnson City.
“I just felt the punches and then the next thing I know I’m in some woman’s arms. She’s comforting me, I see people get out of their cars to come run over to me and check on me. It was intense,” Ernst said.
Ernst was able to record the moments right before she says she was punched in the face. The video shows her boyfriend getting shoved and threatened.
“I was yelling at him like ‘Stop, stop.’ He turns around. He took a good look at me, too, and just hits me multiple times, one in the face,” she said.
Ernst said it started when she, her boyfriend and another friend were walking on campus. Three men were across the street, including the one she says hit her. There was some banter back and forth, though she says she really wasn’t paying attention to what was said.
Things escalated and turned violent. Ernst now has bruises and a black eye.
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“I haven’t processed it yet. I don’t know how to process it, I think I’m still in shock about it. It’s obviously a huge deal, I agree, it’s a huge deal. If I would have seen another girl get punched, I would have felt it, I would have felt what everyone else is feeling. When it’s me, I don’t know how to react because I’m like ‘I still can’t believe it,'” she said.
Two days later now, Ernst is hoping she and the police can track down the man responsible. On Oct. 13, UT Police issued a name and photo of a Johnson City man wanted in relation to the assault.
“No one should be laying their hands on a woman, no one should be violent anyways,” Ernst said. “I’m hoping he’ll be brought to justice. I don’t wish anything bad on anyone, but I’m hoping he gets what’s fair.”
UT Police say the reported assault is under investigation. If you’ve got any information about what happened or the people involved – they want to know. You can reach officers at 865-974-3114.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated after UT Police identified a man wanted in relation to the assault.