Three Seton Hall students were robbed at gun point off campus on Sept. 2 in two different incidences, according to the Department of Public Safety and Security.
The first incident took place on Prospect Street when two men approached a male Seton Hall student and robbed him at gunpoint. The suspects fled the scene, and the student reported the incident to the South Orange Police immediately.
While the student was reporting the incident, the same two suspects allegedly approached two Seton Hall students sitting on a bench in Grove Park, two blocks away from campus at approximately 10:10 p.m., Gary Christie, Assistant Director of Public Safety and Security said.
A University broadcast e-mail said the students reported the incident to Public Safety.
They said they were robbed at gunpoint and surrendered their wallets, a cell phone and a quantity of money to the suspects.
Christie said one of the suspects, a 15-year-old juvenile, was arrested that night.
A weapon and some of the proceeds from both crimes were recovered.
“The incident that happened at Grove Park is troubling to us in that [it was] 11 at night, and two students thought they were safe in a park,” Christie said. “We gotta be a little street smart. We’re surrounded by some pretty tough, gritty neighborhoods, and we’re within walking distance of those neighborhoods. It’s not a stretch to think that someone would come here and target our students as they walk outside of campus. It’s a victim rich environment.”
Christie said Public Safety and Security wants students to take advantage of the services they offer.
Public Safety and Security offers two types of services to students, the SHUFLY and the CASE van.
While the SHUFLY has a direct route, the CASE van runs from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every night and may be used to take students anywhere within a half mile radius outside of campus.
Both Patrick Linfante, Assistant Vice President of Public Safety and Security, and Christie said the majority of crime involving students has happened before midnight while SHUFLY and CASE are still running. However, they said both means of transportation are underutilized.
Linfante said he sees the SHUFLY pass by students walking down South Orange Ave. all the time and he doesn’t understand why.
“Community members have to take some responsibility for their behavior,” Linfante said. “If you’re somewhere out at night take a cab home. How come we have students not taking a cab, not available to take SHUFLY, not available to take CASE? I can’t answer that question.”
“I would like students to tell us why they don’t take any responsibility. I think the University does a pretty good job of keeping you safe here on campus. We can’t keep you safe anywhere you go;it’s an impossible task.”
Junior Shane Overgaard is a Ward Place resident who said he feels the school and the South Orange Police Department need to reevaluate their priorities.
“I feel that the police especially are too concerned with the students and their activities around town and not necessarily their safety,” Overgaard said
Overgaard said last year a man accosted one of his roommates.
“He threatened to come back with ‘his boys’ and ‘shoot our place up,'” Overgaard said. “The matter was promptly reported to the SOPD, it took them over 20 minutes to respond and their advice was to call again if we saw the individual.”
Linfante and Christie agreed people are always going to blame the police for the crime that takes place.
However, Christie said he believes the SOPD has done the best they can.
“In the last month the last three robberies (the South Orange Police) made arrests. That’s terrific given their man power,” Christie said. “They do an awesome job but there’s only so much they can do.”
Linfante and Christie said Public Safety and Security has tried to help decrease the crime situation by installing cameras around the perimeters of the school.
“I can tell you from looking at the cameras and watching the activities of students, there’s just hundreds of them coming and going from like 5 at night to 3 or 4 in the morning,” Christie said. “Someone is bound to get themselves in a situation they can’t get out of.”
Both Christie and Linfante said their main suggestion to students who may be attacked is to become a “good victim,” handing over any valuable belongings immediately while trying to gather a good description of the attacker to report to the police and Public Safety.
Carolyn Maso can be reached at email@example.com.