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Security increases after grad student attack off campus

| Editor in Cheif

The 29-year-old graduate student who was left for dead in the basement laundry room of her off-campus apartment building is now recovering from the attack and in stable condition.

Security in the area north of the Delmar Loop has been increased, but police have not yet been able to identify the perpetrator.

The location of the attack is under the jurisdiction of the University City Police, and according to Don Strom, chief of the Washington University Police Department, WUPD is providing additional patrols to aid in the heightened security efforts.

Michael Ransom, captain of the University City Police Department, did not provide details, but he said that the police are currently working on some leads in the investigation.

The victim was found beaten in her apartment building at around 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2009.

According to a University news release, a Quadrangle employee performing maintenance discovered the victim, a tenant in the building, who was then taken to a hospital, where she is currently reported to be in stable condition.
The building, located on the 700 block of Syracuse Avenue in University City, is owned by Quadrangle Housing, a University affiliate that owns and manages off-campus apartments for Washington University students and faculty.

As students flood back to campus for spring semester, the University is working to ensure that students are safe living off campus.

On Tuesday—the first day of classes—Hank Webber, the executive vice chancellor for administration, sent an e-mail to the members of the University community and said that crime data indicates that campuses of the University are located “in relatively safe urban areas and [data] indicates a reduction in violent crime over recent years.”

But he added that students can expect additional safety precautions this semester, including an increase in the number of blue light phones north of campus beginning this spring, upgrading the safety features in Quadrangle housing by moving laundry rooms out of the basement where possible, and installing panic buttons in laundry rooms that must remain in the basement.

The University is also working on increasing its ability to communicate information on serious crimes in surrounding areas.

Senior Ethan Stern lives directly north of the Loop and said he feels safe in the area despite the recent attacks.

“I wouldn’t do anything stupid,” Stern said. “I don’t walk around late at night. I think that knowing that the cops are around makes me feel pretty safe.”
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the University City Police Department at 314-725-2211 or Crime Stoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

Josh Goldman contributed to this story.

  • mdh, as David was saying, guns are used plenty of times for self-defense. It’s just not usually seen as something worth reporting. “Man pulls gun out and would-be robber walks away” is a boring headline.

    According to these guys (, Americans use guns for self-defense somewhere between 1 million and 2.5 million times a year, saving somewhere around 400,000 lives per year.

    I found another study by a police organization that used the same methods and said their results were consistent with Kleck and Gertz’s.

    However, they criticized the methodology as being geared towards false positives. So…let’s call it 10% of that. 100k defensive gun uses per year, with “only” 40,000 lives saved. That’s still more than all deaths from guns last year, including suicides (which make up the majority of gun deaths).

    David’s link is a collection of anecdotes; mine is the boring statistics.


  • David

    mdh, this blog is dedicated to linking to news stories in which a gun was used in a positive manner for defense:

    As you can see, they make several posts each day.

  • Sadly, violent crime is a reality of living in an urban community. Usually law enforcement doesn’t get involved until after the crime and you’ve become a statistic! Students need to take responsibility for their own personal safety. There are many inexpensive non-lethal personal protection devices available for purchase online. Having some form of personal protection can provide you the few seconds needed to escape and get help. Most cheaper than the cost of a beer tab at one of the bars in the loop.
    Crime Is Real, Don’t Be a Victim!

  • mdh

    Question for the handgun proponents: when was the last time you read a story about someone who was attacked, but who managed to either escape or deter his/her attacker by means of a gun?

    I’ve heard that kind of story once, and it was this past summer in NYC — an elderly shop owner had a SHOTgun under the counter and he killed 3 teenagers robbing his store.

    Other than that, I can’t think of any instance where a gun was helpful during an attack.

  • David

    It’s a good point Gregorz. And forget carrying a gun to campus, how about just having one in your apartment? Quadrangle, in particular, forbids the keeping of firearms. Seems insane, especially for grad students. We’ve got some of the smartest people in the world doing research here, and their landlord doesn’t think they can be trusted to keep a firearm safe? Makes no sense.

  • I live off-campus. I’d feel a lot safer if I could carry my licensed handgun to and from campus instead of relying on my cell phone. Ah well. Hopefully the cops will get there in time to take fingerprints.