WSU student fights off alleged attacker

Kaycee Faber, 20, put her attacker in a headlock and punched him in the face until he gave up. 

ALYSEN BOSTON, Evergreen news editor

Kaycee Faber, a 20-year-old chemical engineering major at WSU, said she couldn’t shake a feeling of uneasiness as she walked home just after midnight Friday.

Faber said she peeked over her shoulder after she left a friend’s house and noticed a man following her to her Churchill Downs apartment.

“I thought I was just being paranoid, like, ‘there’s no one following me, I’m just being weird,’ ” Faber said. “Around Emerald Downs, I realized I still had that feeling of being followed, so I just sped home as quickly as I could.”

Faber said the man pushed her front door open as she turned to close it, then entered the apartment and began squeezing her throat.

“It happened so fast,” Faber said, “an adrenaline rush just kicked in and I responded.”

She said she pushed her attacker away, swung her arm around and put him in a headlock. She then punched him in the face until he stopped fighting back.

“He said ‘OK, OK, OK’ after I hit him a few times,” Faber said. “Then I just opened the door, threw him out and told him to get the hell out of here.”

Faber immediately called 911 and within minutes, officers from the Pullman Police Department located the suspect, Juan Alejandro Mendoza Ortiz, 18, walking down Brandi Way.

Police arrested Ortiz for first-degree burglary and second-degree assault. Ortiz is being held on $500,000 bail in the Whitman County Jail, where he was booked 6 a.m. Friday, according to the jail’s inmate listing website.

“It makes me feel more confident in the capabilities of the Pullman Police,” Faber said. “I wasn’t doubtful of their abilities before, but now it’s like, ‘okay, if I call really quick, they’ll handle it really quick.’ ”

Chief Gary Jenkins said in the past seven years he’s been with the Pullman Police, he can only remember one similar incident.

“Even though we are a safe community, crime does happen here,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said residents should remain aware of their surroundings and be proactive if they feel they’re being followed.

“This is the type of incident that is very difficult to prevent,” Jenkins said. “I think the victim sets a good example of someone who has a good awareness of their surroundings and what’s going on and is prepared to respond if something does happen.”

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
Kaycee Faber, above, shows a bruise she got from fighting off the alleged attacker in her Churchill Downs apartment Friday.

Faber, a Bellevue native, said she is glad the ordeal ended quickly and relatively pain-free.

“I’m incredibly grateful that it happened to me and not to someone who was smaller, or weaker, or couldn’t protect herself or didn’t have a weapon,” Faber said. “It could’ve been a much worse situation, but I’m just happy that it happened to me and I was able to deal with it.”

Faber said her best advice to other women is to get strong and trust their instincts.

“The only reason I was able to get him off me and subdue him enough to get him out of my house was because I lift,” Faber said. “A little strength and muscle mass goes a long way with fighting someone off.”

Faber also recommends if someone does feel like they’re being followed, that they go to a friend’s house instead of their own.

“I realized if I wasn’t able to fight him off, I would’ve been trapped in my apartment,” Faber said.

Faber said she is staying with a friend until she moves into a different apartment.

“I never expected something like this to happen in Pullman,” Faber said. “I’m still trying to process it.”