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Woman who escaped man assaulting her at gym speaks out: ‘Keep fighting, never give up’

The incident, captured on video, took place at a gym in a Florida apartment complex.
/ Source: TODAY

A woman is speaking out after surviving an assault her at a gym in Tampa, Florida.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shared a video of the Jan. 22 incident. The video was edited by the sheriff's office, including the on-screen captions.

Note: This video may be difficult to watch.

Nashali Alma, 24, was working out alone in the gym of her apartment complex when she noticed a man standing outside the door, authorities said.

Alma said she let the man in because she had seen him previously at the gym. However, after she had resumed exercising, the man tried to grab her waist.

“As soon as he was approaching me, I pushed him. I said, ‘Bro, what the F are you doing? Get away from me, stop trying to touch me,’” Alma said in the video. “He started chasing me around the bench, and we ended up on the other side of the gym.”

Alma said she attempted to call 911 as he pursued her. Later in the video, the man can be seen pinning Alma down on the floor as she struggled.

Eventually, the man released Alma and she fled to a nearby apartment, police said.

Authorities have identified the suspect as Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25.

He was arrested less than 24 hours after the incident and faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. was not able to identify a lawyer for Thomas-Jones.

“I would tell every woman always to keep fighting, never give up,” Alma said. “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,” she continued. “The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.”

Sheriff Chad Chronister added in a press release: “I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman. 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.”