By Joe Gorman
and Denise Dick
Two juveniles are in custody after the robbery of a Youngstown State University student in a parking deck on Lincoln Avenue, but a university spokesman says the campus is safe.
“This is disconcerting,” said Ron Cole, YSU spokesman. “It’s very concerning. It’s something that everyone all the way up through the president’s office is aware of and are adamant in addressing. I would say, though, that within about a 12-hour period, the individuals had been apprehended due in large part to our police department.”
University authorities will aggressively pursue, apprehend, arrest, charge and prosecute to the fullest extent possible anyone who comes onto campus to commit such a crime, Cole said.
YSU Police Chief John Beshara said one of the keys to tracking down the two teens so soon was because of the good descriptions given by the female victim.
Beshara said one of the suspects was arrested shortly after the 5 p.m. robbery in the Smoky Hollow section of the North Side behind campus. The other suspect was arrested Wednesday morning with help from the Mahoning County juvenile justice probation department, Beshara said.
Beshara would not provide the names or ages of the teens involved because he said they had not yet been formally charged. They are both being held at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center.
The victim said she was in the parking deck when two males, one of them pointing what looked like a gun at her, demanded her property. She complied immediately and they fled. She in turn went straight to the campus police station and gave a description, which was radioed to university police and Youngstown police. A short time later, a university officer on patrol spotted two males in the Smoky Hollow section who appeared to fit the description.
Both males ran, and one of them threw away what looked like a gun, Beshara said. One of them was caught after a short foot chase, but the other managed to elude police, who brought in a police dog to track him, until he was arrested Wednesday morning.
Beshara said officers found an air gun that one of the males had thrown to the ground, and that it looks like a real gun.
Armed robberies on campus are a rarity, and although the one that occurred Tuesday was the first this school year, it’s not the first that’s ever occurred on campus, Cole said.
Police don’t believe the most recent crime is connected with the string of robberies that occurred on the outskirts of campus earlier this year, he said.
Campus police conduct regular foot patrols as well as bicycle patrols and car patrols on the outskirts of campus. There are security cameras, but he declined to say where, calling it a law-enforcement issue.
“As at any time, being we are an urban university campus, students need to be aware of their surroundings whether they be on campus or off campus,” the spokesman said. “Traditionally we’ve always had a very low crime rate. We’re considered to be one of the safest campuses in the state — and we are. At the same time, we’re in the middle of an urban area, and that requires students to be aware of what’s going on around them. I don’t think that’s any different than it is everywhere.”