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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A suspected peeping perpetrator is still at large in Fort Collins after an incident ending in gunfire on Monday.

Fort Collins Police say it’s common for college towns to have peeping tom incidents. 

Tessi Smith looks sweet, but on the inside, this female is full of fight.  

“You do gain a sense of confidence,” said Smith, “when you hold your head up high and you’re empowered and you’re exhilarated.”

She’s tough but there are situations that make her feel small — like the news about a peeping tom in her town.

“It makes you shrink, you want to shrink inside yourself,” Smith said. “Hide from whatever situation that you might be in that may make you feel vulnerable.”  

She is now an instructor in training at Colorado Krav Maga and wishes more women had the real-world skills to defend themselves.  

“It’s invaluable, absolutely,” Smith said  “You get an opportunity to see what you’re capable of, and so once you get that, there’s like an immense amount of confidence that you walk into every situation with.”

Smith is not the only one who can’t put a price on this knowledge; Brandi Babin also values the peace of mind she now has from taking lessons at Colorado Krav Maga.  

“I’m getting goosebumps when I’m trying to think of what to say right now,” Babin said. “They made me feel like family, and the other half was just wanting to be a really tough chick who could take care of myself.”

These women work together so that when they face a threat in the real world their strength will shine.  

“Most women are afraid to come to a class like this where they have to be aggressive,” Babin said.  “It’s not aggression when you’re using it to protect yourself. It’s a way to protect your beauty and your femininity.”  

Fort Collins police chief, Jeff Swoboda, said a family noticed a person hiding in their tree. When the suspect was approached by the family, the person hopped on a bicycle, pedaled away and fired their handgun. 

Chief Swoboda said that this crime often escalates into more violent offenses.  

“The act itself may seem dangerous because the person’s just looking but that is far from the truth,” said Swoboda.  

He doesn’t recommend you confront a peeper, but he understands it might be a natural instinct. He said arming people with information is best way to confront the situation.  

To deter a peeper, Swoboda said to cut back large bushes under your window so there isn’t a hiding spot, install lights that turn on with motion, and look out for your neighbors.