Police: Man accused of trespassing at Belmont Abbey College turns himself in

Officials said the man went inside one of the college’s residence halls.
Images also showed he may have been driving a dark-colored SUV.
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 6:40 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT
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BELMONT, N.C. (WBTV) - The man accused of trespassing on the campus of a Gaston County college this weekend has turned himself in, campus police said.

“I believe Belmont Abbey College is an extremely safe campus. Students just need to remember to be responsible for their own space. We’ve got to look out for each other,” Belmont Abbey College Chief of Police Andy Leonard said.

Surveillance images shared by Belmont Abbey College showed that the incident happened Sunday around 6:45 a.m.

School officials said the person, who appeared to be a man wearing a black t-shirt and white/dark-colored plaid shorts, illegally entered one of the campus’ residence halls.

Images also showed he may have been driving a dark-colored SUV.

Campus police identified the suspect as John Foster Alexander, 38.

Around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, campus police confirmed that Alexander turned himself in at the Mecklenburg County Jail. He’s charged with second-degree trespassing, breaking and/or entering, burglary, secret peeping and sexual battery, jail records show.

Students said Monday this incident is concerning.

“I mean, it’s more concerning that people can just come on campus so easily,” student Brooke Ruiz said.

Several students said they believe the man was able to get inside the dorm due to a broken key card system.

“Heard that someone got into the new Res dorms because the door was broken and he was able to go into any door that was unlocked,” Ruiz said.

Campus Police said all the security systems were working as they should be.

“The dorm that he entered does have automatic doors. And if there is a mechanical issue, they automatically go to a ‘failsafe’ which means they close and they lock and students will have to then enter a functioning door which we did have functioning doors and our doors do lock and they worked the way they were supposed to,” Leonard said. “I think he found a vulnerability and in the way that students behave and used that to his advantage.”

What happened inside the dorm remains unclear.

Another freshman student, Reagan Iovino, said she and her classmates feel safe on campus.

“We trust our campus officers and know they’re going to do a good job in this situation,” she said.

Belmont Abbey’s campus police department is investigating the incident. They also said they are adding a security gate at entrances around campus, have fixed the keypad that was locked at the dorm and are reminding students to ensure their personal safety by locking and securing doors.

Campus police confirmed the victim is back on campus today.

“They have returned to campus, are getting all the resources that we have that she needs to make sure that she’s okay,” Leonard said.

Anyone with information about the incident should call campus police at 704-400-6200.

Related: Belmont Abbey College announces $100 million development plan