Students mugged at gunpoint on Mac Street

By Tom Lisi

A group of four female students was mugged at gunpoint on Macalester Street on Thursday, Feb. 15.

In the 2005-2006 academic year there were four reported instances of Macalester student muggings, all of which involved either a lone student or pair walking home in the Macalester/Groveland neighborhood late at night listening to music instead paying attention to their surroundings, said Laurie Hamre, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs.

The latest security alert, which was tacked onto the front doors of Macalester’s dorms the morning after the alleged crime, is quite different. The mugger robbed a group of four students at the earlier time of 11 p.m. Instead of occuring on a lonely residential street, the crime took place on campus.

In response, campus security added a guard to the nightly force for three nights following the mugging, said Terry Gorman, director of Safety and Security at Macalester.

The school has recently taken steps to increase students’ awareness in order to prevent a similar event from happening again. A bulletin was issued the day after the crime urging students to walk in groups at night, to avoid cell phone and iPod use while traveling and to report any suspicious behavior in the area.

The nature of the crime is atypical of past student muggings, especially since the victims were in a group of four, said Sergeant Denise Gilbertson of the St. Paul police. Gilbertson, who has investigated robberies in and around campus for the past six years, said he does not think the latest robbery is the beginning of a trend.

Gilbertson said that university and college campuses are the least hit areas in the Twin Cities in terms of muggings and robberies. The notion that college students are ideal or sought after targets for muggers is false.

“Robberies are crimes of opportunity,” Gilbertson said. In her investigation, Gilbertson noted that the four females were caught completely off-guard by the offender and when she asked the victims if they could recognize the offender if they saw him a second time, they answered no.

Of the four reported muggings in the 2005-2006 academic year, three of them were solved by St. Paul police largely due to the “excellent communication” that Macalester’s security force maintains with the police, Gilbertson said.

However, Gilbertson was not optimistic about finding the perpetrators of the mugging since the victims could not give an adequate description of the perpetrator.

The best way to prevent muggings, according to Gilbertson, is simply to avoid obliviousness and exude confidence.
“If people, whether it’s on a campus, or coming out of the grocery store, move from point A to point B with purpose in their walk, their chances of getting robbed or mugged greatly decrease,” said Gilbertson.