USF students robbed at gun point

It was Saturday at the University of South Florida and students were enjoying the break from the hectic week of classes and homework. Marc Miller was spending his day with friends at the USF football game.

“It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had going to a football game,” Miller said.

Later that day Miller, a Premedical science student, went to visit a friend who lived in the apartment complex along 42nd Street across from the USF campus. It was a little after 2 a.m. when Miller and two of his friends left the apartment to head back to the USF’s dormitories.

“My friends and I were walking down the street,” Miller said. “When a car parked off to the side, two men jumped out and just ran at us with guns yelling to us to get on the ground.”

As the two assailants approached Miller and his friends, Miller started shouting for help, but his shouts for help were silenced by one of the attackers.

“One of them started to strangle me around my neck,” Miller said.

What happened to Miller and his friends is not a rare occurrence in Tampa. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual crime report, in 2013 there were 582 robberies that involved the use of a firearm.

But reading about the crime statistics does not compare with actually becoming a statistic.

While Miller was being strangled his attacker noticed a gold chain and ripped it off his neck. His attacker then put the gun to his head and ordered him to empty out his pockets.

“He then ripped off the belt I was wearing and demanded my wallet,” Miller said. “When I stood up to take the wallet out of my back pocket, that’s when he struck me with the butt-end of the gun on my chest.”

While Miller and his two friends were being attacked, cars were driving by. The drivers ignorant to what was happening. One driver did notice and stopped.

“One car finally slowed down and honked, realizing what was going on,” Miller said.

That saved Miller and his friends, making the assailants run back to their vehicle and speed away.

Since the attack, Miller is constantly looking over his shoulders and being aware of his surroundings.

“I really don’t want to even go out anywhere,” Miller said. “All of my senses are heightened, so that’s how I act around campus now.”

Miller’s plans are to finish out the semester and then go back home to Massachusetts.

“I just want to go home and transfer back to a school, close to home, where I know I’ll be safe,” Miller said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

USF Police Department keeping peace amongst the chaos at Homecoming

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Friday night of Homecoming week is probably the most hectic. There is so much going on all at once: the carnival is up and running, crowds line the streets to watch the parade and then file across Palm Drive to watch a concert. There is a line of cars trying to make it to the various parking lots and people are crossing the streets from all directions. From a by-stander’s point of view, it’s a recipe for disaster.

To handle this much chaos, the USF Police Department start preparing months ahead.

“We collaborate with various entities on campus in preparation for it,” Assistant Chief Chris Daniel said. “As the week approaches we start looking at staffing. We require all officers to be available.”

There are 52 officers on staff at USF, but during large events, such as Homecoming, the Temple Terrace Police Department steps in to offer additional resources.

While students, alumni and faculty are relaxing and enjoying the various events, some USF Police officers are riding around on bikes patrolling the campus grounds making sure attendants are staying safe.

The biggest issue of Homecoming is the concert. Because the concert is open to the public, people not affiliated with the university attend and this has caused some problems in the past.

“We don’t have control of access,” Daniel said. “There’s no checkpoints around the event. We just have to deal with what occurs instead of trying to prevent.”

And this year would be no different from past Homecomings. The university police had to remove a few people from the concert for disorderly conduct and there was one arrest.

“A student who took a fire extinguisher and discharged it throughout the crowd and then ran from police when we tried to catch him.” Daniel said

The university police have also had issues concerning the people who attend the parade. They run out in front of the floats to cross the street or to pick up the goodies that have been thrown.

“Often times the person driving the float can’t see that well and there’s always a risk of somebody getting hurt,” Daniel said.

To help with this problem the USF Police Department has officers riding on bikes alongside the floats, and officers, dressed in safety-green vests, standing in the intersection of Bull Run Drive and Alumni Drive directing cars, people and floats, making sure all get across the intersection safely.

University police officer Frank Wassenberg, who was riding a bike patrolling the campus Friday night, said so far everything has gone smoothly.

For many USF students Homecoming week is an exciting time. A time to relax and enjoy the array of festivities. But for USF’s Police Department it’s a time of working long hours and making sure all in attendance stay safe.

“Homecoming is a great event,” Daniel said. “It’s taxing on our resources, but it’s only one week out of the year that we’re in this position, so it’s very manageable.”