Scream mask mugger leaves students wary on the way home

Credit: Anna Boyle/Art Editor Credit: Anna Boyle/Art Editor

A recent series of Shadyside robberies, all perpetrated by suspects wearing Scream masks, has had Carnegie Mellon students frightened to be outside at night.

Three weeks ago, on Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Carnegie Mellon community was notified via email of two robberies that occurred that Monday, Sept. 17, and one that occurred Wednesday, Aug. 29.

The email from the 17th specifies that a woman was approached at the corner of S. Highland Ave. and Walnut St. by a suspect “who was wearing a ‘Scream’ Halloween Mask.” Brandishing a black handgun, the suspect “grabbed her phone and demanded her wallet,” then fled on foot. Just five minutes later and a few blocks away, another woman was held up by a suspect in a black scream mask. “He pointed a black handgun at her and demanded her phone, purse, and backpack.”

Last weekend on Sept. 29, another victim was held up by someone wearing a Scream mask, this time on the corner of Euclid and South Negley. Though local news stations have reported on this, the Carnegie Mellon community has yet to be notified in the same manner as the previous incidents.

Many Carnegie Mellon students who live in Shadyside report that since being notified, they have been returning home from campus earlier than usual. “I leave around 7 or 8, latest 9. Before, I would stay until 11 or 12” says Sophia Kim, a sophomore design student who lives on Bellefonte St. Kim didn’t think too much of the first robberies, but “after the 4th time [last weekend] I’ve been going home earlier.” She’s been walking home with friends and doing more work at home.

“This wasn’t the first time I had heard of horrific things happening in Shadyside,” commented a Masters student who did not wish to be named. After explaining that the robberies were not shocking, but reaffirming of the dangers that lurk off campus, she boarded the 71C bus, heading home to Shadyside at 4:45 p.m.

Many students are troubled by the university’s delayed reporting of these incidents. The first mass email was sent out weeks after the attack, which was perpetrated on someone described in the email as a Carnegie Mellon affiliate. Carnegie Mellon Chief of Police Thomas Ogden explained that crimes that occur off campus are not reported to them. They can only release alerts after substantiating the facts with the police agency that has jurisdiction. Ogden assured that “We are attempting to improve communications with Pittsburgh and Pitt Police relative to timeliness with incidents that happen in their jurisdictions.”

The Pittsburgh Police department did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but there seems to be an increased number of patrol cars in the Shadyside area.

Though cable news sensationalized the fact that all of the victims so far have been women, Ogden clarified that, as of Oct. 4, “all of the victims were not female.” Dan Dellobade, a Masters student in Health Care Policy and Management, was “a little shocked” at the news of the robberies but not too discomforted. He acknowledged, “I wouldn’t say I’m a typical target being that I’m a bigger male.”

Chief Ogden “strongly encourages our community members to not walk alone at night, to use our Shuttle system when possible, to be alert to their surroundings, and report anything suspicious to the police.”