UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, OH (WOIO) - Wade Commons is usually a place where some of the most distinguished students in the country spend time studying. Saturday, Wade Commons at Case Western Reserve University became a target for crime.
Four students were studying in the Redcats Room when suddenly three males, said to be teenagers, came in and robbed them of what a source says was mainly cell phones and computers. The victims say one of the suspects had a silver handgun.
"I partly was a little bit shocked because there have been people getting their phones snatched - not incredibly often - but the fact that it happened inside a building is a little bit - that just hasn't happened here before," says Patrick Mulhair, a sophomore at Case.
Case Campus Police aren't releasing the names of the students who were robbed, but say they're stepping up their police presence. A security card is needed to access most of the buildings on campus, but it's easy to imagine how a criminal could get in.
"Probably they followed someone else - like a lot of times people will hold doors for each other just as a courtesy, and even if it wasn't someone specifically holding, even if you just waited around the corner until someone was going in or out, you could grab the door before it shut," added Mulhair.
Students say they are now being more cautious.
"Definitely being more cautious. Anything can happen even if you are in dorms or next to this university. It doesn't mean you are totally safe," says Menna Fahmy, a student who lives on campus near where the robbery took place.
Case Western Reserve University released the following statement:
"Case Western Reserve's foremost responsibility is to the safety of members of our university community. In the wake of Saturday's incident where four students were robbed at gunpoint, we feel compelled to take significant immediate, short- and long-term action to increase security on campus.
To that end, the university immediately applied 24/7 keycard access requirements to Wade Commons on the evening of Saturday, July 19. In addition, university police significantly increased patrols in the North Residential Village, and continue to coordinate with colleagues at the University Circle and Cleveland police departments to identify additional steps officers can take to increase visibility and reduce incidents within that area of the city.
In addition, effective Tuesday, July 22, the university will:
- station a security officer within Wade Commons during business hours, and maintain controlled keycard access to the building at all other times;
- maintain the security officer's presence until a remote camera and door-buzzer system is installed to ensure that access to Wade Commons is controlled 24/7;
- continue the redeployment of university police begun over the weekend, and identify ways to supplement patrols with increased foot and Segway patrols in the North Residential Village;
- relocate and reopen the raised, lighted security booth that had been installed on the west side of East 115th street, adjacent to Mather Park. The booth was removed to accommodate construction of a new residence hall at that location; it will open again just south of that location, much closer to Wade Commons and other university residence halls; and
- begin a comprehensive review of the university's physical perimeter- including formal and informal access points – to determine additional ways to ensure access to residential spaces is limited to university students and appropriate university staff and faculty.
University officials will continue to explore additional options to increase security and educate its community regarding measures they can take to enhance their own safety and those of their peers. The university will provide public updates regarding these measures and others subsequently launched as developments warrant."
Like 19 Action News on Facebook for the latest news, weather, sports and giveaways.