Assault near campus involving Pride Center ambassador

Published: Sep. 26, 2016 at 3:52 PM EDT
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Knoxville police are investigating an assault on campus that left a gay student bloody and bruised. Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis talked to the victim today who said he wants everyone to be careful when walking alone.

Pictures of sophomore Jacob Carpenter after he was jumped by several men in The Fort circulated social media. He said they cut his eye, bloodied his ear, and hit his head on the pavement. Jacob Carpenter says, "I was just freaking out. I honestly thought that was going to be the end. I thought they wouldn't get off."

Jacob said he had just left his friend's house walking to his dorm room when he was pushed to the ground. Two women walked up and witnessed it all. Jacob's friend Cassandra McAllister says, "They said they saw three guys come up, tackle him and start throwing punches right to his face."

He didn't hear the suspects say anything because he had his headphones in, and when two women walked up, the men ran off.

Carpenter says, "I just really want to know why they wanted to do something like that."

Jacob is an ambassador for the Pride Center on campus that promotes equality for the LGBTQ community. He's experienced discrimination on campus before, just two blocks from where he was attacked, this sign is hanging in the fort that says, "Can't say gators without saying gay."

Several weeks ago the Pride Center flags were vandalized and the window was broken. Now, he just wants his story told saying, "I'm just trying to raise awareness so others will be safer than me."

The UTK Student Government Association put out a statement saying, "Jacob's incident is enraging, disappointing and it is absolutely heartbreaking to be forced to acknowledge that what happened is something of which members of our community are capable."

Police are investigating, but don't have any suspects so far. Officials also tell us they are not investigating this as a hate crime. As for Jacob, he now has mace and a taser to protect himself.