WUPD responds to two armed robberies on Westgate Ave
Two armed robberies took place on the 700 block of Westgate Avenue at 12:24 a.m., Dec. 7.
In the first incident, a female Washington University student was approached by a male subject who pushed her to the ground and threatened her with a handgun, demanding her personal property. Around the same time, another female Washington University student walking along Westgate was approached by a second subject, armed with what appeared to be a rifle, who also demanded her personal property. Both subjects took the students’ belongings and then drove away in a dark colored vehicle.
At 1:55 a.m., the Washington University Police Department (WUPD) sent out a crime alert email to the student body communicating the details of the two incidents.
The University City Police Department is the primary investigator for both incidents. However, they will work with WUPD on campus-related matters.
“[We] act as a liaison between University City Police Department and the University, as well as the students that are involved,” WUPD Chief of Police Mark Glenn said. “If the University police department needed to conduct another interview with students that were involved, a lot of times we can help coordinate that.”
This semester, WUPD has introduced two new programs to improve off campus safety: the Campus2Home shuttle and the neighborhood bike patrol. In response to Saturday’s incidents, WUPD plans to double down on these programs.
“We’ve already adjusted their [the bicycle response team’s] schedules and their patrols to ensure that we get more patrols in that area,” Glenn said. “We’ve also ensured that we have enough staff to cover any additional escorts that we would get requested for. I want to make sure that the students know if they need an escort, they can call, and we’ll have the staff to make sure that they get escorted as quickly as possible.”
Although sophomore Lou Friedman, who lives near the scene of the crime on Westgate Avenue, was generally uncritical of WUPD’s response, he characterized the frequency of such incidents as an unfortunate reality.
“These incidents just happen sometimes in the area around campus, no matter what neighborhood you’re in…but it’s definitely not ideal,” Friedman said. “Having an incident specifically on my street didn’t change how I already felt based on other incidents in other neighborhoods because I feel like we’re all in the same area.”
Moving forward, Glenn hopes to structure WUPD’s future safety initiatives around input from the University’s public safety working group. The group presented initial recommendations Nov. 19, and will present final recommendations by the end of the calendar year.
Although Friedman, who found out about the incidents through the crime alert email, said he believes he was well informed about the incident, he still worries as he will have to walk from his car to his apartment alone at night due to the hours of his work.
“I might be more heads-up when I walk to and from my car, especially if it’s at night,” Friedman said. “But I can’t really change my behavior because I work until late at night.”
When crimes do occur, Glenn encourages students to cooperate with the aggressor and to contact WUPD as soon as possible.
“We also know that you can do everything right and still this can happen, so we always remind people: If someone confronts you asking for the property, just give them the property as soon as possible,” Glenn said. “Get away safely. Call the police and let us help them as well as trying to find who is responsible.”