Two students were assaulted last Thursday night on Warden place, directly across the street from Boland Hall. Two young men pulled out pellet guns and threatened them, asking for money.
Senior John Rodriguez and sophomore David Lewis were walking to a friend’s house when one of the two men grabbed Lewis from behind, and put a gun in his back.
“Two kids were behind us and didn’t think anything of it,” Rodriguez said. “Then all of a sudden they just kind of grabbed Dave, I saw it happen but he didn’t really know what was going on, he thought it was friends of ours.”
The assailants then told them to ‘run their pockets.’ Cars passed by as the incident took place, but Rodriguez said it would have just looked like a few students having a conversation.
“Every time a car passed by they would say ‘hide it, hide it’,” Rodriguez said.
He and Lewis both said that they thought their assailants appeared much younger than they were. The police report stated the assailants are 18 and 19 years old.
“They were really amateur about it,” Lewis said. “They seemed almost as nervous as we were. They were almost, I don’t want to say polite about it, they weren’t very aggressive, they didn’t push us around or anything.”
The guns turned out to be air-soft pellet guns, but Lewis and Rodriguez said they couldn’t tell at the time, and even if they could have, they would have taken the situation just as seriously.
“It turned out to be airsoft guns, but we weren’t about to question that,” Lewis said. “They were still convincing. When it was against my back it didn’t feel heavy enough or metallic to be a real gun, but we weren’t going to take any chances.”
After Rodriguez and Lewis surrendered the cash they had on them, the assailants ran away. Both students found a police officer in his car about a block away and reported the incident immediately.
“Twenty minutes later we hear on the radio ‘we have two suspects’ and they brought us down to somewhere in Newark and they had two kids and we identified them,” Rodriguez said.
He said that the officer wouldn’t have been able to see the incident from where he was stationed.
“We lucked out that there was an officer right there,” Rodriguez said.
“Before that I kind of doubted them, but they got on it right away, they took care of it really quickly. They were very professional about it.”
Both students said that they have been out at night since the altercation, and that there wasn’t anything else that the school could have done to prevent it.
“I’ve been driving more places, even if it’s just a block away from the gate, I still drive,” Rodriguez said.
When asked about the option of a watch-dog group run by students in the community, Lewis said “I think we kind of already do that, just not in an organized fashion.”
Lewis said that being aware of surroundings was important to safety in the area.
“It’s not ‘not safe’ to walk around at night,” Lewis said. “It’s not that this community is bad, you just have to be smart about it. I think the area is safe, the security is there, you just have to be aware.”
Stephanie Bower can be reached at email@example.com.