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Continued: Crime spree has Dinkytown, U campus on edge

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 5, 2013 - 5:45 AM

Parents ‘extremely concerned’

Extra Minneapolis officers would join Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies sent two weeks ago by Sheriff Rich Stanek. Stanek said it’s unusual for deputies to join campus police on what he called “concentrated patrols.” He said those patrols will continue up at least until winter break.

Stanek said he was eating his Thanksgiving meal with family when his niece told him that some of her sorority sisters had recently been robbed and assaulted at gunpoint.

“Parents are extremely concerned,” he said.

The calls for more police are a temporary measure, but Hestness said he recently proposed that his department take over more regular patrols of the neighborhoods surrounding campus. Such a move would require a new U police headquarters building and at least 30 more officers, he said, but it would ramp up security in the neighborhoods where many students live.

Efforts ramping up

State Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, will open a legislative hearing on campus safety next week. Students have organized an online petition demanding a bigger police presence on and off campus. In addition to texting crime alerts to students, the U is expanding its Gopher Chauffeur service that offers students a free ride home. It will stay open until 3 a.m., an hour later than the usual closing time.

Two of the most brazen robberies have been armed and taken place during the day.

In one, an armed man approached a student in Anderson Hall and demanded her laptop. He fled after she handed him an empty case and screamed, prompting police to issue a shelter in place advisory while they looked for the man, who was never found.

In the most recent attack, Zechariah Jones, 21, who is not affiliated with the U, was waiting at a bus stop on University Avenue in front of University Village Saturday morning when two men approached him and asked him what time it was. One revealed a handgun, demanded his possessions and punched him in the face. The robbers fled on foot.

Jones came away from the assault with a busted lip and feeling shaken to the point that he couldn’t go to work. “I lost my pay,” he said.

Police were preparing to release a composite sketch late this week of a suspect who posed as a police officer and may be responsible for two sexual assaults Nov. 23-24, one near the U and the other in Fridley. They’re also trying to determine whether that same suspect was involved in a third incident, near TCF Bank Stadium.

In that case, a woman said two men tried to abduct her as she walked alone just after midnight Nov. 27.

 

Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.

 

Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329

 

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