Attacks prompt new Midway security

Two students assaulted by groups of men Friday night

By Sam Levine

Two University students were attacked and robbed by groups of men in separate incidents near the Midway between 9:20 and 9:30 P.M. Thursday night. The attacks triggered two campus security alerts, which were sent to members of the campus community in the hours that followed.

The second victim was knocked unconscious and transported to the University Medical Center for treatment. University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) spokesman Bob Mason did not know if the victim had been released from the hospital.

Another group attack took place at 1:10 a.m. Saturday morning on East 53rd Street between Greenwood and University avenues, according to the UCPD Daily Incident Report. The victim was pushed into an alley by five to six men, struck in the face, and had his cell phone, iPod, and wallet taken, the report said.

Police suspect the same men may be responsible for the Thursday night attacks, according to Mason. One took place on East University Avenue between South 60th and 61st Streets, while the other happened by the Linne statute on the Midway between South University and Greenwood Avenues.

“Due to the close proximity and times of the incidents, it is possible that the same people could be responsible for both attacks,” Mason said, adding that police did not think gang activity played a role in the attacks.

In both cases, students were approached by more than three men, and were hit in the head. No arrests have been made.

Mason said that while the Saturday morning’s incident was similar, it was not necessarily linked to those on Thursday. He noted that the style of attack is common.

In a campus-wide e-mail sent out on Friday night, UCPD Chief Marlon Lynch and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews wrote that UCPD had added daily security guards and foot patrols to escort students across the Midway between South Dorchester and Ellis Avenues from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. UCPD patrols have also increased patrols in the main quad and along 57th Street.

“These patrols are not meant to be a quick-fix response to these incidents,” Mason said. “We’re going to keep the patrols out there as long as we need to keep students safe,” he added.

Mason said Saturday’s incident would not result in further increases in patrols or the relocation of any patrols further north of the Midway. “We’re concentrating right now on campus. That’s not taking away from the rest of the neighborhood but we really want to make sure we’re reinforcing the campus area,” he said.

Lynch originally notified students of the attacks on Thursday night, but many Gmail e-mail filters sent the security alert to their spam folder, leaving large numbers of students unaware of what had happened. All students were notified of the attack when they received the joint e-mail from Lynch and Goff-Crews on Friday.

The attacks happened the same day Lynch sent out a campus-wide e-mail reporting that total crimes in the area are at record low levels.

—Additional reporting by Asher Klein