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Police in Florida have released harrowing video footage of a woman fighting off a suspected attacker in a private gym last month — and now she has advice for others who may find themselves in a similarly dangerous situation.
On Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shared CCTV footage of Nashali Alma, 24, as she worked out in the gym inside her apartment complex on the evening of Jan. 22, 2023. While lifting weights, Alma noticed a man at the door. She can be seen in the video dropping her workout gear to politely open the door for the unknown man.
“My thought process is it was just another dude coming in to work out,” Alma said in an edited video from the sheriff’s office.
The man, who police have since identified as Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, is seen in the security footage attempting to grab Alma as she continued her workout.
“As soon as he was approaching me, I said, ‘Bro, what the eff are you doing? Get away from me. Stop trying to touch me,'” Alma told police.
Thomas-Jones then chased Alma around various gym equipment.
Her phone still in her hand, Alma can be seen in the video punching the attacker as he tries again to grab her. When the attacker is able to pin her to the floor, Alma fights relentlessly, kicking and punching until he finally pulls away and gives up.
Alma fled the gym to a nearby apartment complex, according to Fox-13. The outlet reported that Alma had seen Thomas-Jones, who apparently lives at her apartment complex, at the gym in the past.
“When it was happening, I actually had no fear,” Alma told Fox-13. “I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me.”
The following day around noon, Thomas-Jones allegedly approached another woman in the same apartment complex, according to police. He knocked on the second, unnamed woman’s door and attempted to enter her home, but was scared off by her fiancé.
Less than 24 hours after the gym attack, Thomas-Jones was arrested. He admitted to police that he intended to sexually assault both Alma and the second woman.
Thomas-Jones was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual battery.
“My advice would be to never give up,” Alma said. “As long as you don’t give up, you fight back, if you show him that you are strong … that you’re able to fight back and survive and get out of the situation, I believe it’s possible.”