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'Never Give Up’: Woman Caught In Surveillance Footage Fighting Off Man Who Attacked Her At Apartment Gym

Xavier Thomas-Jones is accused of attacking Nashali Alma in late January. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Nahali Alma fighting off an attacker

Harrowing video captured a Florida woman desperately fighting off an attacker at her apartment complex gym as the suspect tried to force her to the ground.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released footage Wednesday of the Jan. 22 attack along with commentary from 24-year-old Nashali Alma, who credited her ability to fend off the attacker with her determination to “never give up.”

“My parents always told me in life to never give up on anything and that’s one thing that I always kept in my mind when I was fighting him,” she said. “As long as you don’t give up, you fight back, you show him that you are strong, you are one, that you are able to fight back and survive this and get out of this situation, I believe it’s possible.”

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Alma had been exercising at the gym at her Tampa apartment complex when she spotted a man trying to get into the door and went to buzz him in.

Believing that he was just “another dude coming to work out,” Alma said she “didn’t think anything” about it and returned to her workout.

But a few moments later, he is seen in the footage walking up to her and trying to grab her near a weight bench.

“As soon as he was approaching me, I pushed him. I said ‘Bro, what the eff are you doing? Get away from me, stop trying to touch me,’” she recalled.

The suspect, later identified by Tampa Bay news station WTVT as 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones, began to chase Alma around a weight bench as she tries to call 911 before she moves to the other side of the gym.

Alma is seen in the footage punching and kicking her attacker as he tried to throw her to the ground.

"When it was happening, I actually had no fear," Alma told the local news outlet. "I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me."

Her attacker eventually fled after he got worn out trying to fight her off.

"The more fight you put the more they want to give up,” she said of her mindset at the time. "If I keep going, I keep pushing, he's going to stop. He's going to let go and he finally did."

In the video released by the department, Sheriff Chad Chronister said he was “grateful” Alma decided to come forward to tell her story.

“I know that her story is going to be an inspiration to other women,” he said.

He called the alleged actions of Thomas-Jones “disgusting,” WFTS reports.

Thomas-Jones — who reportedly lived at the apartment complex — was arrested the following day and charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Alma wasn’t the only resident of The Oaks of Woodland Park Apartments to have a run-in with the 25-year-old.

One day after the attack at the gym, Thomas-Jones allegedly watched another woman on her balcony for several minutes before knocking on the woman’s door, according to a criminal affidavit obtained by WFTS.

He comes and knocks on the door and I answer thinking it could be a custodial man or something like that and I open the door and he's like do you want to hang out?,” the woman told the local outlet.

The woman responded, “Who the f--- are you?,” according to the court records.

Thomas-Jones allegedly took four steps into her apartment before the woman called out to her fiancé, who chased him away.

The woman described the encounter to WFTS as “really weird” and “really scary.”

The woman and her fiancé later identified Thomas-Jones as the suspect in a line-up.

He allegedly admitting to restraining and battering Alma and approaching the second woman at the door, according to the court documents. During the interrogation, investigators said Thomas-Jones admitted that he had sexual intentions with both women.

He is currently being held in jail without bond, NBC News reports.

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