NEWS

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November 1, 2005

Attacker mugs visitor on quads

A third-year in the College and his friend were attacked at gunpoint on October 27, near the Snell-Hitchcock courtyard on the north end of the quadrangles. No injuries were reported. The incident marked the 13th such attack in what police officials have called a “series of crime” in Hyde Park.

According to a University Police (UCPD) report, Dan Worthen, 21, and Nora Malone, 22, were attacked at 8:05 p.m. The attack occurred at the northwest end of the main quadrangles on the ramp that connects the area around Hull Gate and Botany Pond to the Snell-Hitchcock courtyard. The attacker held a gun to Malone’s head and demanded her purse. Seizing it, the offender fled southbound and then westbound, according to the report. Malone’s purse contained various identification cards, personal papers, and a small amount of cash.

The victims described their attacker to police as a black man, 5 foot 10, of medium build, wearing a light blue baseball cap with no markings on it, a camouflage sweatshirt, and baggy pants.

“It’s highly unusual to have this many incidents,” said Bob Mason, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), an organization that monitors crime in the Hyde Park and South Kenwood neighborhoods. “More often than not, there might just be a usual stick-up, but nothing with this extent of violence.”

The October 27 attack on the quadrangles added to a total of 16 armed robberies in a violent crime spree that began September 12. “The offender accosts victims as they walk on the street and takes their property at gunpoint,” according to an SECC report obtained by the Maroon.

Police officials believe that one man is behind the string of attacks, and that the same man was also responsible for the October 27 incident. “The method that the person used in committing this crime fits that of previous incidents,” said Mason, adding that the physical description of the attacker and location of the crime are consistent with those of the previous crimes. “Many of these incidents have occurred around 56th and 57th streets and Kimbark Avenue,” he said.

“We’re not treating this as an isolated incident,” said Rudy Nimocks, director of the UCPD. “We don’t know whether we’re dealing with a ‘person’ or ‘persons.’ But we do know that there’ve been 16 of these [incidents].”

The attack on the quads came only 25 minutes after another armed robbery by the same alleged perpetrator, according to SECC reports. A female victim was walking on the 5500 block of South Kimbark Avenue at 7:40 p.m. She reported that the offender approached and pointed a gun at her, saying, “This is a robbery.” The victim surrendered her handbag and the attacker ran southbound on Kimbark. The offender was described as a black man, between 180 and 200 pounds, and approximately six feet tall, according to the SECC report.

The string of attacks continued on Saturday, October 29, when an armed robbery occurred on the 1300 block of East 55th Street (near Kimbark Avenue), at 7:25 p.m., followed by another attack on the 1200 block of East 58th Street (near Woodlawn Avenue), at 8:45 p.m. The last and most recently reported attack occurred only half an hour later, in the 5400 block of South Hyde Park Boulevard at 9:15 p.m.

Kyle Lee, a second-year in the College, is a close friend with Worthen, who called Lee about 20 minutes after the incident. “He seemed very calm about it, very composed,” Lee said. “[Worthen and Malone] gave the UCPD a report and went on their way.”

According to Lee, Worthen was giving a tour of campus to Malone, who is not a University student and lives off-campus. “She wanted to go to graduate school here next year,” Lee said.

As Chairman for the Student Government Transportation and Security Committee, Lee said he was specifically contacted for his close ties to the security issue on campus.

“I met with Martina Munsters [Deputy Dean of Students for Student Affairs] and we both decided that there needs to be much more done about our security,” he said.

Lee also talked to Sergeant Jocathy Roberts, Crime Prevention Officer for University Police, who reviews the criminal activity of the previous day. “She expressed a great deal of concern about it,” Lee said. Roberts noted that the UCPD has temporarily concentrated security into the quads area, consisting of more bicycle-mounted police officers and extra patrol cars, Lee added.

Three days after the robbery, Lee said that Worthen “sounds fine” in telephone conversations. “But he wants to see something done about it,” Lee said.

With the criminal still at large, Nimocks reassured students of “increased patrols” in the quadrangles and around campus in general. “We’ve alerted everybody about this, and we’ve stepped up our efforts,” Nimocks said.

For Lee, the latest attacks signal a turning point in the police’s search for the perpetrator. “The fact that [the attack] was on campus, earlier in the evening, and had this level of violence is something different than before,” Lee said. “The police will catch him, because he’s getting cockier.”