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Florida woman FIGHTS off her attacker at gym

(TAMPA, FL) –  A woman is speaking out after fighting off a man who, officials said, assaulted her in her apartment complex’s gym.

Hillsborough County deputies responded to the Inwood Park Apartment Complex in Tampa on Jan. 22 to investigate an assault.

24-year-old Nashali Alma told deputies that she escaped a man by fighting him off after he attacked her in the gym.

According to authorities, Alma was exercising alone before letting the suspect into the gym. She reportedly opened the door for him because she had seen him at the gym in the past.

As Alma continued her workout, authorities said the suspect, 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones, approached her and attempted to grab her waist. She yelled at him, demanding to get away from her, but he continued to chase her around the gym. She continued to fighting him off till she was able to get away and call the cops.

Deputies were able to track Thomas-Jones down and arrest him less than 24 hours later.

“I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “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 spoke out about her experience to encourage other women who’ve dealt with similar incidents to speak out.

“I would tell every woman always to keep fighting, never give up,” said Alma. “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. 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.”

Thomas-Jones was arrested on Jan. 23. He faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Xavier Thomas-Jones (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)Xavier-Thomas-Jones.jpg