The third violent crime in as many weeks at SUNY Buffalo State on Elmwood Avenue has triggered an increase in foot patrols inside the college’s 11 residence halls, Campus Police Chief Peter M. Carey said Monday.
“If the crimes are taking place in the dormitories, you want to have an increasing presence as a preventative measure,” Carey said.
“It gives the students an opportunity to express concern. Many of them are surprised by the incidents and that they are taking place in a short period of time.”
The most recent incident occurred Sunday night in the stairwell of Tower 3 when a student was robbed of his cellphone and some cash at gunpoint by two men, Carey said.
The robbery occurred shortly after 8 p.m. as the male student was walking the stairs with three other students, police said.
The student was approached by two suspects – one armed with a semiautomatic handgun and the other with a knife – who threatened him and demanded his phone and money, Carey said.
“All of the recent incidents were crimes of opportunity, and when you have suspects carrying weapons, it gives them an advantage over the victims they choose even if the victims outnumber the suspects.”
The three other students who were present during the incident were not robbed, and no one was injured.
The suspects were described as two black males. The gunman wore jeans, tan Timberland boots and had a buzz haircut with “SWOOP” shaved on his head, The suspect with the knife wore sweatpants, black boots and a black hoodie.
Campus police are asking anyone with information to call them at 878-6333.
A confidential tip line at 878-3166 has generated numerous credible tips, according to Carey, including one that led to the arrest Thursday of Mohamed Kaba, 22, in connection with the Sept. 8 on-campus slashing of a fellow student outside Student Apartment Complex. The victim was slashed in his arms, back and torso “numerous” times, police said. Another student suffered bruises in the early morning altercation.
Kaba, of Yonkers, faces charges of first-degree assault, burglary and weapon possession, according to police, who believe that the weapon was a box cutter or razor.
Carey said Kaba was arrested off campus at his apartment.
A surveillance camera located in the lobby of the apartment complex captured an image of the suspect moments before the assault was committed, Carey said. Media outlets published the image, which led to a tip that brought the arrest, Carey said.
That attack may have been in retaliation for an earlier incident off campus, and not a random crime, campus police have said. In that assault, Carey said, the primary victim “suffered some pretty good injuries” requiring “numerous stitches and staples to close up the wounds.”
On Aug. 28, the attempted sexual assault of a student in her Porter Hall dormitory room resulted in the arrest of another student from the same dorm, police said. The 17-year-old suspect fled after the victim began to scream. He was apprehended by campus police shortly after the incident.
“We may have this increase over a short period of time, but we are still a safe and secure campus,” Carey said of the recent incidents.
In addition to the stepped-up foot patrols, the campus has for two years participated in a national program called Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD, a 9-hour self-defense course taught over three days. It teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training. “It’s growing in popularity for men and women,” Carey said.
In addition to a force of 33 police officers, the campus employs 60 students as student assistants who drive the escort van, patrol Butler Library and provide security from midnight to 4 a.m. in residence halls. Carey put the resident population at 2,800 students.
Blue Light emergency phones may have faded in relevance with the prevalence of cellphones among students. However, Carey maintained the 43 telephones provide a visible point of refuge for students. The phones provide direct access to campus police who are able to determine the location immediately.
The increased patrols are occurring as the college is marking its 144th birthday Tuesday with a party outside Butler Library. The event, hosted by the United Students Government, Student Life and Alumni Affairs will feature yard games, live music and cupcakes.