Crime creeps closer to campus with recent armed robbery

In the early hours of Sunday, August 16, a Carnegie Mellon student was robbed at gunpoint at the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Margaret Morrison Street. This is not the first time a Carnegie Mellon student has been robbed; such an event during the late hours of the night isn’t a foreign concept to Carnegie Mellon students.

However, most robberies of any sort have occurred off campus in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue, toward the University of Pittsburgh campus. This most recent theft is the closest to campus an armed robbery has reportedly occurred.

Three men, presumably not Carnegie Mellon students, pulled up to the victim in a silver minivan, forced him to the ground with the use of a semi-automatic handgun, and consequently forced him to provide his ATM PIN after stealing his wallet and cell phone. Noel Titus, a first-year engineering student, had been with friends on Margaret Morrison Street when he happened across the victim. He described the victim as an Asian male who was alone. Around 2:30 a.m., the victim asked Titus for the University Police’s number, but Titus was unable to help him.

According to Titus, the victim continued down Forbes Avenue, and ended up at the Cut. Here he encountered Christian Aponte, another first-year. Aponte was with friends when he decided to ask some Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers if he could take part in painting the Fence on the Cut. While Aponte was painting, the robbery vicitm approached him and asked to borrow a cell phone to call the University Police. Within moments, the University Police were at the Fence to report the crime. Aponte, a first-year in H&SS, described the incident as a reality check. He admitted to being naive about city robberies and the possibility of being mugged. He said he will be taking more care to be vigilant.

“This occurrence is a good lesson about avoiding walking around by oneself at night,” said Anna Goddard, a senior philosophy major and Mudge House community adviser.

“It is indeed a wake-up call to many who believe that this type of event would never happen to them personally. Though our campus is very different from the University of Pittsburgh’s, it is still an urban campus.” Goddard acknowledged that Carnegie Mellon is relatively safe in general, but she stated that “if a person wanders around alone anywhere at 2:30 a.m., the chances of finding oneself in a compromising situation are unfortunately increased.”

University Police are assisting the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in the investigation of this incident. Gary Scheimer of University Police, well recognized for his community and school education programming and expertise in criminal investigations, oversees the Special Services Division.

When asked about Sunday’s incident, he said that University Police are also looking into a similar case, possibly linked to a robbery at the University of Pittsburgh about 10 days prior.

The Carnegie Mellon crime alert e-mail offered some crime prevention tips: avoid walking alone at night and use the university shuttle or escort service, as well as SafeWalk, when possible; if the suspect is after your valuables, do not resist or confront him or her — instead, try to avoid a violent confrontation and possible injury; and report any suspicious incidents, persons, or vehicles to University Police at (412) 268-2323.