Campus assaults raise safety concerns

Grishma Rimal
News Editor

“They said ‘Hey’ and I said ‘What?’ And one said ‘Give us your money,’ and I said ‘Hell, no.’ Then they started walking towards me. I swung first, and then one hit me in my stomach, and then I fell to the ground.”
Kevin Jones, a junior human services major from Lineville, described the above encounter while recalling the assault and robbery that he faced on Tuesday, Sept. 15, around 9:30 p.m., at the Shackelford Quad.
According to Jones, he was walking from Pace Hall toward Trojan Center when two men called out to him from behind and the aforementioned exchange took place.
After Jones fell to the ground, “one started kicking me on my right side,” he said.
“One of them took my wallet. I only had 20 bucks,” Jones said. “And then they just threw it (the wallet) back on me, and I saw them run off towards the main (Bibb Graves) quad.”
The men took only the $20 from Jones. After the men went away, Jones decided to go back to his apartment.
“I drove back to my place and sat down for a little while because truthfully, my pride was hurt,” he said. “Because I basically got jumped, and I didn’t want to tell anybody.”
A friend convinced Jones to report the incident because it could also happen to someone else. Jones reported it to the university police.
The episode was the second of its kind to occur at Shackelford Quad within the span of a week.
On Thursday, Sept. 10, a female student reported being approached by an unknown man and defending herself with pepper spray.
According to John McCall, university police chief, the police are unsure of the intent of the suspect in the pepper spray case.
“We don’t know whether it was a criminal act or not because the first girl reacted so quickly,” he said. “So we never found out what his real intentions were. The second incident was probably just a crime of opportunity.”
Police have had no leads in either of the cases, as they continue to review security camera footage.
In lights of the events, lighting and patrols have been increased at Shackelford Quad.
“We’ve also talked to physical plant about updating the lighting in that area as far as replacing the old halogen stuff with LED lighting to make it a little brighter as well,” McCall said.
Herbert Reeves, dean of student services, said that he was surprised that those incidents occurred in the Shackelford Quad because of the heavy traffic that usually flows through the area.
“There’s nothing different now than there was last year, other than we’ve got some people that are just preying on unsuspecting students,” he said. “The only thing we can do at this point is ask people to remain vigilant, and when they’re out and about be sure they’re traveling in pairs and staying in well-lit areas.
“Unfortunately there are people that are going to try to take advantage of other people when they sense some type of a weakness.”
Reeves said that comparing the crime statistics for Troy and other campuses across the state and the nation, Troy would be considered a very safe campus.
“I don’t think we’re getting more unsafe,” he said. “I just think that when you have more students on campus, you’ve got to do a better job of educating students and faculty and staff on the precautions they need to take.”
McCall advised students to be aware of surroundings and to walk in pairs at night.
“Be aware of what you are doing with your valuables,” McCall said. “Don’t carry a whole lot of cash with you at night if you are walking by yourself.”
Reflecting on his personal experience, Jones said that he had never thought Troy to be unsafe in the five years that he had been familiar with the campus.
“I need to be more aware of my surroundings and less naïve that we don’t live in a perfect world,” Jones said.

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