A Tampa, Florida woman recently experienced a terrifying encounter while working out in a gym. Nashali Alma, 24, was exercising in her apartment building’s facility one night in late January when a man she’d seen at the building before walked up to the entrance and requested help getting in.
The entire encounter was caught on a surveillance camera. Alma, who had the gym to herself, seemingly didn’t think twice about letting him in. He approached her as she walked back over to finish completing her routine. The footage did not contain audio, but she appeared apprehensive before he lunged forward and a struggle ensued. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released the video yesterday (Feb. 15). Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said the “disgusting” attack happened at the Inwood Park Apartment on West Waters Avenue on Jan. 22.
A woman shares her experience after fighting off a man who physically assaulted her in her apartment complex's gym.
Nashali Alma wanted to speak out about her experience to encourage other women who've dealt with similar incidents to speak out. pic.twitter.com/hyTeO3quRA
— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) February 15, 2023
Authorities identified the suspect as 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones, a resident of the building, according to local news station Fox 13. Alma spoke to them about how she kept her cool during the horrifying confrontation. “When it was happening, I actually had no fear. I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me,” she shared. The young woman revealed what crossed her mind during the gym fight: “‘If I keep going, I keep pushing, he’s going to stop. He’s going to let go.’ And he finally did.”
Alma fled to safety, but that wasn’t the end of Thomas-Jones’ reign of terror. By the following day, he returned to his apartment where he fixated his interest on another resident. According to Fox 13, “Deputies said he watched another woman on her balcony ‘for several minutes’ before knocking on her apartment’s front door.” When the unsuspecting woman answered, he asked if she wanted to “hang out” with him, to which she responded, “Who the f**k are you?” Thomas-Jones then entered her apartment, but the woman’s fiancée was home and intervened. The 25-year-old told officials he restrained and battered the first victim in the gym because he wanted to have sex with her. He said for the second woman, he thought she was “pretty” and had sexual intentions for her as well. He is currently in Falkenburg Jail for sexual battery, false imprisonment, burglary and kidnappings.