Two mugged in one week near campus

By Michael Barnes

On Wednesday, less than one week after a Macalester senior was surrounded by three young men and robbed at gunpoint on the corner of Fry St. and Summit Ave., Matt Hauck ’06, found himself pressed into a five-inch knife blade at Fry St. and Dayton Ave., just a few blocks away.
In Hauck’s case, however, it was a woman who grabbed him by his coat, stabbed at him with a knife, and asked him to hand over his money or die.
“It’s amazing how fast you can move when you have a knife to your chest,” Hauck said.

In less than ten seconds he handed over $40 and watched the heavyset perpetrator walk briskly away. He was stunned.
It wasn’t just the shock of being threatened and robbed; Hauck could not believe a woman had committed the crime, on a street corner one block away from busy Snelling Avenue, in broad daylight. While the first incident occurred in the early morning on Jan. 26, at about 12:45 a.m., Hauck was robbed right around noon.

Because the senior who was mugged in the first crime could not be reached for comment before press time, his name is being withheld to respect his privacy.

According to an alert notice released by Macalester Safety and Security, this first victim was walking home when three African-American males approached him.

Two of them had knives, and the third had a handgun, a security officer said. In addition to robbing the student, the three men “roughed him up,” and tried to force him to the ground, the security officer said. But the student refused to get on the ground, and the three assailants eventually stopped harassing him and fled the scene of the crime.
The next afternoon, the bright “hot pink” alerts that serve as a safety warning to students were posted on exterior doors all over campus. Hauck, who frequently walked by the site of the first robbery at night, was among those students who took careful notice of the warning.

Hauck, his housemates, and nearby friends even altered their nightly routes from campus to their off-campus houses in response to the first mugging.

“We started walking down Snelling at night,” Hauck said. “I don’t think any of us had thought it was a risk during the day.”
On Wednesday, Hauck was headed to lunch on campus before his afternoon class when, just two blocks from his house, he ran into the very situation he had been trying to avoid.

“I was on the East side of Fry; same way I walk to school every day,” Hauck said. “I got to the intersection at Dayton, and had to wait for a truck to cross.
Hauck crossed the street and tried to walk up a short ramp and onto the sidewalk, but a woman standing right in his path wouldn’t move.

“There was this heavyset black woman on the corner, who was just standing there not going anywhere,” he said. “She just grabbed my coat and stabbed a knife into my chest. I thought it was a joke at first, but I felt something on my chest—and she said it was a knife.”

While Hauck’s winter coat now has a small hole where the knife penetrated, he was unharmed by the woman.

He didn’t argue or attempt to resist the demands, Hauck said. He just gave her the money and then before he could think, she was gone.
“She kind of just walked quickly away,” he said. “I think she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.”

Hauck arrived at the Safety and Security Office at Macalester just twenty minutes after he was held up, Associate Dean of Students Jim Hoppe said.

He met with Director of Safety and Security Terry Gorman, who sat him down, talked to him, and made sure he was OK.

Despite responding to the incident with a level head, Hauck later realized he was greatly affected by what happened.

“It won’t leave my mind,” he said. “I’m just constantly thinking about this.”
After Wednesday’s mugging, another wave of alerts were posted up around campus just five hours after the incident.

“We try and get [the notices] up as quickly as possible,” Gorman said.

According to Gorman, the police have taken reports, begun investigating the crimes, and agreed to do more patrols.

“The police are looking for [the assailants],” he said.
As this issue went to print, an all-campus security meeting was being planned that would include Dean of Students Laurie Hamre, Hoppe, Gorman and hopefully a member of the St. Paul Police. Hoppe hoped that students would bring their concerns, as well as any incidents of robbery or assault that have previously gone unreported.

At least one student interviewed for this story said he was mugged last semester, but declined to report the incident. Gaylen Baynes ’08 was robbed at gunpoint with a friend after leaving a party. Baynes only had $2, and argued with the criminal over giving it up, he said.

“I said this is bullshit and threw the two dollars on the ground,” Baynes said. The mugger picked up the cash and left.

While the annual crime report released by the college shows no reported incidents of robbery or aggravated assault since 2002, this report applies primarily to on-campus incidents, and it is not clear whether either of these muggings, especially the one further away, will count towards official college crime statistics, Hoppe said.

Still, Gorman said that robberies happen “hardly once a semester, maybe once a year.”

Gorman said he keeps a close eye on activity occurring in other areas of the city, but the closest incident was an armed robbery at Hamline University on Jan. 21, pulled off by two perpetrators armed with a handgun, according to the “blue” informational notice Gorman posted up on campus around the time this mugging occurred.

Gorman encouraged students to consider several safety precautions, including walking in pairs, or groups, being mindful of surroundings, and utilizing the campus “safe walk” program.

“We still have far too many people walking by themselves at night for my peace of mind,” Gorman said.

Gorman also cited as a concern the tendency for students to walk around with a “feeling of invincibility.” Hauck agrees.

“I’ve walked around New York City, [Washington] D.C., New Delhi—so many places at night where I stand out and never been worried about it,” he said. “It’s kind of the clichéd thing to say, but I never thought it would be me.”