A woman in Florida bravely defended herself against an attacker in an apartment gym last month — leading to a suspect’s arrest after he tried to victimize another woman.
Nashali Alma, 24, was exercising in the gym at the Inwood Park Apartment Complex in Tampa when Xavier Thomas-Jones attacked her Jan. 22, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office charged.
Security footage posted on social media by the sheriff’s office shows Alma letting Thomas-Jones into the facility before continuing her workout. Thomas-Jones, 25, is then seen trying to grab Alma’s waist — but she leaps away.
“As soon as he was approaching me, I pushed him,” Alma says in video accompanying the footage.
Nashali Alma bravely fought off Xavier Thomas-Jones in an apartment complex gym.Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
“I said, ‘Bro, what the F are you doing? Get away from me. Stop trying to touch me.’ He started chasing me around the bench, and we ended up on the other side of the gym.”
FOX13 reported Thomas-Jones lived at the Inwood complex, but it’s unclear if Alma was familiar with him before the attack.
In the footage, Alma and Thomas-Jones can be seen sparring for several moments, with the assailant pinning her to the floor.
The pair fought for several moments before Alma fled.Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Alma eventually was able to get back on her feet and run to a nearby apartment, where she called 911.
Thomas-Jones fled — and tried to enter another woman’s apartment in the complex. He was apprehended by deputies less than 24 hours later, FOX13 reported.
Once in custody, Thomas-Jones allegedly admitted restraining and battering Alma because he wanted to have sex with her, the outlet reported. He allegedly targeted the second woman, whose name hasn’t been released, because he thought she was “pretty.”
Alma said she hopes other women find inspiration in her ordeal.Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
As of Thursday, Thomas-Jones remained in custody on charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment, burglary and kidnapping.
“I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the video. “This woman’s strength, courage, and determination are inspiring. I know that her bravery to share this story will impact the lives of many other women.”
Alma said she wants her harrowing experience to help other women fight for themselves.
Xavier Thomas-Jones was arrested on Jan. 23. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
“As long as you fight back and show him that you’re strong and you’re not giving up, I believe it’s possible to escape,” she said.
“It’s better to reach out to law enforcement sooner than later. The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.”