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Gunmen rob student, run off with cash and car keys

By Ellen Liu     5/22/12 7:00pm

A Rice student was allegedly robbed at gunpoint by two African-American men near Entrance 23, next to the Martel College parking lot, at 9 p.m. on May 6. The suspects allegedly took the student's cash and car keys before running away, and the student was unharmed, according to Rice University Police Department's Interim Police Captain Clemente Rodriguez.

The student reported the incident immediately after it happened and said two males in their early 20s and wearing dark-colored hoods approached him with a gun and asked for his money, Rodriguez said. The student described one of the suspects as around 5 feet and 10 inches tall and the other as around 6 feet tall, according to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the student acted correctly in cooperating with the alleged robbers.

"We always tell people to cooperate," Rodriguez noted. "Nothing is worth sacrificing your life."

Rodriguez said RUPD would respond to the incident by continuing to be as visible as possible around campus to deter crimes from happening.

"Conflicts like this have been random in nature and location, so we cannot just station an officer in any one particular area right now because we do not know which particular part of campus to pay attention to," Rodriguez said.

Will Rice College sophomore Linda Wang said she also wanted to see RUPD educate people about how to respond.

"These incidents seem spread out enough that having RUPD patrol the Outer Loop would be impractical," Wang said. "However, it would be nice if there was some sort of information about what to do in those situations because I would not know what to do at all if I were at gunpoint."

Rodriguez noted that RUPD does plan to teach the Rice community how to stay safe on and around campus.

He said people should avoid walking alone at night and should let others know where they will be if they must go out by themselves.

"Try to be aware of your surroundings," Rodriguez said. "Don't get distracted or be on the phone if you're walking alone at night because you could become an easy target for predators."

He added that students should always have RUPD's number in their phones and be aware of the blue-light phones around campus so that anything suspicious can be reported.

"The sooner that people report incidents like this, the more likely it is that we can catch those responsible," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also said students should be aware of RUPD's night security escort service and should not hesitate to use it after dark.

The victim preferred to remain anonymous and declined to comment.

Martel College master Ted Temzelides said he was shocked and concerned that an alleged armed robbery occurred so close to the residential colleges.

"Many of our students order food late at night and wait for delivery in the parking lot," Temzelides said. "We all thought we were safe this close to the colleges, but apparently, this is not the case. Something needs to be done."

Temzelides said the university and RUPD should install more lights, station officers around the area of the crime and park one of their patrol cars there as often as possible.

"Just having a police car in the parking lot could act as a deterrent," Temzelides said.

Wang said the incident did make her more wary of walking at night, but she did not think her habits would change significantly.

"I feel completely safe walking anywhere in the daylight," Wang noted. "It could be a good idea to carry something like mace as a precaution, but that would be the only thing I could see myself doing differently."

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