DePaul-area party mugging highlights safety issues
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 00:02
Three men were arrested in connection with harassing and trying to rob a group of DePaul students as they left an apartment building on the corner of Racine and Altgeld last Saturday night, Feb. 9, according to Cindy Lawson, vice president for public relations and communications.
Public Safety said they heard about the situation almost immediately. Sophomore David Kolosa said that when he and his friends arrived at the scene, they were able to identify some of the males that had attacked them. These men were detained and when the police arrived they were arrested.
Kolosa, 20, said that he and six other DePaul students went to a friend’s apartment around midnight Feb. 9 because there was going to be a birthday party for one of the girls who was with them. However, their friend who lived in the apartment wasn’t there yet, but on the Red Line coming home. Kolosa said that as he and his friends waited by the stairwell inside the building, a group of six males came inside. They assumed that they were there for the party, so they told them that nothing was going on yet and all six left.
Kolosa said that he and his friends grew tired of waiting for their friend and decided to go somewhere else. When they reached the door to go outside, they found a group of around 15 males waiting for them. Among them were the six that they saw earlier.
Kolosa said that no one in his group wanted to try to get past them, so he decided he would be the first one to try. As he walked towards the door, one of the heavier males pushed him into a corner and told him to empty out his pockets, Kolosa said.
“It was either fight or flight,” said Kolosa. “I had my iPhone 5 on me and my social security card in my wallet, so I decided there was no way I was going to empty out my pockets.”
Kolosa pushed the attacker aside and ran out the door. He said that eventually everyone else got out too, but they were not as lucky as he.
“One of my friends got punched in the face, and one of the girls got kicked and had a busted lip,” Kolosa said. “They also stole some of the girls’ phones.”
Kolosa said that a bystander called Public Safety, who arrived within five minutes. Most of the perpetrators had fled by this point, but Kolosa said that he saw two of them casually walking a block away, and one of them was the person who had pushed him and punched his friend in the face. He told Public Safety and they detained both of them. When the police arrived, which was about three minutes after Public Safety, Kolosa said that he and his friend stayed and identified the suspects.
Kasey Moore, Justice Benjamin and Tommie Hoskins were charged with home invasion and multiple counts of robbery Feb. 12, according to the Chicago Police Department office of Media Relations.
Public Safety sent out an alert Monday, Feb. 11, warning the DePaul community about the incident and advising people to remember the following: “Always be aware of your surroundings; report any strange behavior or incidents; travel in groups; and if you are alone, take a cab.”
When asked why they couldn’t reach out to the DePaul community before Monday, Public Safety said the following: “Crime alerts are sent out to the campus community when there is a continued threat to students and employees. In this case, the perpetrators were caught almost immediately. The communication sent on Monday was solely as a safety reminder.”
Public Safety also said that they are not responsible for activities that take place off campus, nor do they respond to off campus incidents unless requested by the Chicago Police Department.
Students at DePaul shared their reactions to the incident that happened.
“Lincoln Park is a particularly safe area,” said Kolosa. “I don’t walk outside thinking that I’m going to get robbed. This situation reminded me that I shouldn’t get too comfortable in my environment.”
DePaul freshman Meghan Meehan, 18, said that it seems like there has been more robberies than usual on campus.
“My roommate’s Mac got stolen about a week ago,” she said. “And now this; I’m definitely going to be more cautious with my belongings.”
Junior Anna Chilinski, 20, occasionally attends off-campus parties in Lincoln Park and was shocked by what happened.
“It’s a scary thing,” she said. “Especially because it’s a place so close to school and we feel safe here. It just goes to show you that you have to be really careful no matter where you are.”
Like Chilinski, Kyle Schmude, a freshman, 19, also thinks that the situation is scary.
“A lot of people don’t think it would happen to them,” he said. “And the students who were involved in the incident probably all thought that too.”