Area incidents concern students

Erie police are looking for two men suspected of acting in two separate occasions of strong-arm robbery – one involving a Gannon student.

According to Lt. Kirk Werner, community affairs officer for the Erie Police Department, police responded to the first incident at 8:36 a.m. Monday on the corner of West Seventh and Chestnut streets. He said a Gannon student was approached by two black male teenagers, who looked to be about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing around 170 pounds. One was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and the other was wearing a dark, either black or blue, hooded sweatshirt.

Both of the suspects had been hiding behind trees before they approached the victim. They took the $600 iPad 2 the student was carrying.

Werner said after they asked if he had any money, they punched him on the right side of his face. They were last seen running west on West Seventh Street.

There were no other witnesses.

The second incident happened at 11:45 a.m. on West Sixth and Walnut streets.

Werner said a worker from the Erie County Court House was walking to Emerson Gridley Park during his lunch break when he was approached by two black men.

They were described as 16 to 18 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 150 pounds.

One was wearing a gray sweatshirt and the other was wearing a dark blue sweatshirt.

Werner said the victim attempted to walk around the suspects, but they would not let him pass on the sidewalk.

One of the suspects then grabbed his sleeve, Werner said.

One of the suspects acted like he might have a gun. They kept asking the victim for money, Werner said.

The incident ended when a resident on the south side of West Sixth Street came out on his porch and yelled, “Hey, hey what’s going on.”

Both suspects took off running south on Walnut Street, Werner said.

Erie police have been patrolling the area since then, especially during the lunch hour, looking for people who fit those descriptions.

They will continue to do so, Werner said.

Gannon police have also increased their force in the area, Ted Marnen, the director of campus police and safety, said.

Marnen said Gannon police responded to the incident to help out the Erie police.

They were especially concerned because it affected a Gannon student, Marnen said.

Werner said that although there has been an increase in violence in the city recently, that isn’t surprising.

Every year around November and December he said he sees a similar increase in robberies, thefts and burglaries.

“People need the money, whether it be for the holidays, or they are trying to make quick cash,” he said.

He encouraged students to walk in groups of two or more, which are unlikely to be approached by criminals.

He also encouraged students to walk in well-lit areas, and he said it’s not a bad idea to carry mace.

If they have no weapon, he encourages students to run from the criminals, or to run out on the street and wave their arms around to draw attention to their situation.

Marnen also encourages students to pay attention to their surroundings.

He said students should avoid distracting activities such as texting, listening to music and talking on the phone while they are walking around Erie.

Chelsea Platz, a freshman physician assistant major, said she plans to take more precautions when walking around Erie.

Although she said she has listened to her iPod in the past, she said she doesn’t think she will do this anymore.

Platz said these incidents have made her a little more fearful of walking around Erie than she was before.

“It makes me scared to walk alone, even from the library at night,” she said.

However, she said she thinks the Gannon police are doing their best to make the campus safe.

“I always see them patrolling,” she said. “So I feel like if I ever needed them they would be there.”

Cory Borden, a senior sports management and marketing major, agrees that the police are doing their best.

“The campus isn’t really that big, but they can’t be everywhere,” he said.

He said he feels safe on campus, even though he wasn’t surprised by the crimes that happened Monday.

Robert Fisher, a freshman criminal justice major, was more surprised this happened.

“I’m used to this kind of environment, because I’m from Pittsburgh,” he said.

“But I assumed Erie was less inclined to crime, especially around the campus.”

TESSY PAWLOWSKI

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