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Nerves jangled by criminals

Mary Kate Malone | Monday, August 28, 2006

Notre Dame Security/Police and South Bend Police are investigating two off-campus incidents involving Notre Dame students that both took place during the first week of classes.

At Turtle Creek Apartments, a man dressed in a service uniform allegedly held a junior Notre Dame student at knifepoint Wednesday night. The female student allowed the man to enter her apartment around 7:45 p.m. after he said he needed to look at her cable box, according to police.

But after spending 10 minutes with him, the student, who wished to remain anonymous, grew frustrated and increasingly certain that “this guy wasn’t supposed to be in my apartment.”

Within minutes, the man was holding a knife to the student’s neck.

“He said, ‘If you scream, I’ll kill you,” she said. “I grabbed the knife, pushed his arm down and looked at him and said, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?'”

He told her to get on the floor, but she refused and moved toward the front door to escape. The man got there first and ran out of the apartment.

She closed the door, locked it and called a friend nearby immediately, she said.

“I was caught by surprise,” the student said. “He was wearing a [uniform] shirt. He looked like he was an employee. … I think that people need to know that just because … they’re maintenance doesn’t mean that they are.”

Police are searching for the suspect, described as a 20 to 30-year-old white male, 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, Associate Director of NDSP Philip Johnson said in an e-mail sent to students Saturday.

Johnson was unavailable for comment Sunday.

While the student was not injured, the memory keeps her on edge, she said.

“It’s hard for me to walk into the apartment by myself,” she said. “I still get really freaked out because I’m not sure [if] he’s sitting there waiting for me.”

NDSP also reported that a male Notre Dame student was robbed on Notre Dame Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday. The student was treated for an injury at a local hospital, police said.

“The student was approached by the two subjects who threatened him, struck him and took his wallet and cell phone,” Johnson said in the e-mail.

The student was walking back to campus in a group of about 10 students, but became separated from them by a short distance.

The two suspects were described in the e-mail as black males, 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall, slender build and wearing white T-shirts and jeans.

South Bend Police officers are handling both investigations, although NDSP is assisting in the Turtle Creek incident, Johnson said. South Bend Police public information officers did not return phone calls to The Observer Sunday.