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SMC students robbed at gunpoint

Megan Doyle | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A man with a pistol robbed three Saint Mary’s students at gunpoint in the early hours of Sunday morning, police reports stated.

Capt. Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department said the three women were walking on the 900 block of North Notre Dame Avenue near Howard Street around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning when the suspect approached them.

One of the victims said the girls were walking from a house on Dublin Avenue to Brother’s Bar & Grill in Eddy Street Commons. The Observeris not naming the woman because she was the victim of a crime.

“I’ve always felt safe in the area,” she said. “It was more a complete and utter shock, but also kind of a feeling that I would have done whatever he asked me to do. … If people had told me to run, I wouldn’t have been able to run. It was that type of scared. It was very surreal.”

The girls were approaching Howard Street when they noticed a solitary figure walking in their direction. The victim said she grabbed her friend’s hand to make sure the two other girls were aware of him as they walked down Notre Dame Avenue. When she thought he might pass them, he changed direction.

“He came straight at us and pulled out a gun, told us to get on the ground and give him all our money,” she said. “He was cursing at us, like, ‘Give me your f****** money.'”

The victim said she and her friends did as they were told.

“He told us to run before he shot all of us,” she said. “That was probably the scariest thing he said.”

The victim, a resident of South Bend, ran to her family’s house nearby and called 911 from her home. Trent said the suspect fled south down Notre Dame Avenue. The women described the suspect as a black male in his late teens or early twenties, and he was wearing khaki shorts and a white t-shirt.

Trent said the women were not able to describe the victim in more detail to identify him further.

“They were petrified, and it was dark,” he said.

When they left their friends’ house on Dublin Avenue, the victim said the women had been warned not to walk, and friends had advised them to call a cab instead.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll save a few bucks on a cab and just walk. It will never happen to me,'” she said.

Now, the victim, an off-campus senior, said she would think twice before walking through the neighborhood late at night again.

“A few bucks on a cab is a lot better than a situation like this happening again,” she said. “It could have been so much worse. We got lucky.”

Trent advised students to use public transportation or find a ride from a friend when traveling through the city late at night.

“If (students) don’t know the character of the area they are walking through, they should not do it,” Trent said. “Definitely try to secure a ride without having to walk long distances.”

While walking in a group is safer than traveling alone, he said this incident is an example of the way a late-night walk, even in the company of other people, can go wrong.

“Even a group of three at 12:30 at night when it’s pretty lonely out there, that can still be high risk,” he said.