JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Police on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro Friday reported an armed robbery on the parking lot of the Collegiate Apartments. According to the incident report, an African American male dressed in dark clothing with a bandana pulled a handgun on another man. The initial report stated that the victim told police nearly $300 had been stolen.
"We're still early in the investigation and we're still trying to find several people that we need to talk with," said Chief Jim Chapman.
Chapman said University Police were called out to the apartment complex at approximately 4:00 a.m.
"About 4:30 this morning, we got a call to a armed robbery over at the collegiate park apartments here on campus. Through our initial investigation, we were able to find out that 2 male victims were apparently in an apartment with, what we can gather right now, about 10-12 other individuals gambling. And these 2 left the gambling party and were proceeding back to their dwelling when they were approached by an individual wearing all black and a hood with a bandana on his face and demanded money from them," said Chapman.
The university issued a campus security notice through text messages and e-mails at 7:55 a.m., nearly 4 hours after the initial 911 call to Jonesboro Police.
"Any time we have a situation on campus when we feel the students should be aware a particular incident or a happening that's gone on on campus, we'll send out an email or text message alert or both," said Chapman. "Resources are limited and same as resources everywhere in the country are limited, and though we'd like to have more officers, we spend as much time in different areas as we possibly can."
"Generally, it takes us some time to gather enough facts together to have enough information to put out a quick message to them," said Chapman. "We have 2 messages that do go out, 1 is strictly a text message so it's limited in number of characters, and then we can have an email message that can be much longer that can detail more of the information that we want to get out to them."
University Police has 17 full-time police officers and 4 full-time dispatchers. 2 officers were on duty at the time of the reported robbery.
"With the number of residence halls we have on campus, it's tough to get to all of them and spend as much time as we'd like to at them," said Chapman.
Witnesses said a group of men were shooting dice at Collegiate Park Apartment 201 early Friday morning.
"I'm very concerned because you don't think of somebody walking around campus like that, so it makes me cautious just to know that somebody has a gun on them," said Brandi Brown.
Brown lives close to the scene of the crime. She said she'd like to see University Police patrol the area more often.
"I think there should be more people out here out and about doing something about it because everybody don't have email or computers to get the information," said Brown.
"I just thought it was bad people trying to do that when they should be at school trying to better their lives, and they're out doing things they shouldn't be doing," said Erica Fisher, who lives across Caraway Road at the North Park Quads.
"I believe UPD should be patrolling more since they knew it was a armed robbery going on, so either way it goes I think it's still dangerous," said Fisher.
"It's not comforting by any means, I don't know, it kind of makes me want to get my concealed to carry license," said Brittany Edwards. "I think UPD needs to spend more time around residential areas and like, coming back from the library, instead of worrying about what kind of Greeks are doing or anything like that."
"If they would just put more lighting around the library and places like that, where you're going late at night and not going leave until 2 am. Or even if they had somebody where their job was just to patrol that area, it would make me more comfortable," said Edwards.
Chapman said Friday that his department hasn't seen an increase in crime, but the types of criminal behavior has changed.
"I don't think we're seeing more crime than you would anywhere else, I think anytime you have a severe economic downturn like we've had in this country, I think if you look around, a lot of places are experiencing more crime," said Chapman. "I think you'll see as a result of economic downturn, a lot of crimes involving robbery, bank robberies, convenience store robberies, you'll see all of those start climbing, and it's a fact that there are a lot of people that are suffering and sometimes your irrational thought behaviors take over and crime is a result of it."