The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Students Attacked On and Off Campus

The University community has been on high alert following three incidents involving students within the past week.

Last Saturday, the Department of Public Safety sent out an email alerting the community to two separate incidents where several students were attacked by three individuals, both on and off campus.

The first incident happened around 12:30 a.m. on September 11, when a group of students standing outside Montgoris were approached by two men.

After a few moments, one of the men sprayed the group was a substance that Public Safety believed to be pepper spray.

The two men ran off towards Gate #6. Two students suffered an irritation to their eyes, one was sent to and treated at a local hospital.

After the suspects fled, they allegedly ran into a second group of students who were walking towards the Dunkin Donuts on the corner of Union Turnpike and 169th Street.

One student was punched several times, another was sprayed with a substance similar to the one used in the first incident. Neither required medical attention.

In an unrelated incident, another student informed Public Safety that he had been robbed a gunpoint at around 3:00 a.m. on September 14, while sleeping at a bus stop on the corner of Union Turnpike and 173rd Street.

This student later recanted his statement, saying that although he was robbed of his backpack, there was no gun involved. Thomas J. Lawrence, the vice president of the Department of Public Safety, said that the University was looking into the recent incidents.

In regards to the off-campus incident, he said that Public Safety is working in conjunction with the New York Police Department to find the suspects. 

“The NYPD is working with us to pull the video from the surrounding businesses video surveillance cameras,” he said. “Public Safety doesn’t have the ability to pull those videos, so we work with the NYPD because they can subpoena the information.”

However, Lawrence is still not convinced that the suspects in the spraying incidents are not related to the University.

“In terms of the on-campus incident, we are still reviewing the videos from surveillance cameras,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it takes a while because the video is in real-time. We found someone that fits the description the complaintent made and we are looking into it.”

When asked about what the department is doing to maintain student safety, Lawrence talked about the recent enhanced amount of officers in the residence village.

“We’ve increased officers in the strip outside Montgoris because we’ve had several complaints from students,” he said.

“We just asked the officers to spend a little more time there.”

At the end of the each email, Public Safety also provides students with points of advice to keep in mind while out and about, which Lawrence heavily reiterated.

“Don’t walk alone, always have your phone on you,” he said. “A lot of those things your mom and dad told you when you were five years old and we just got to hit them back into your head.”

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