Pair of armed robberies at UALR concerns students

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The latest armed robbery on the UALR campus has students concerned for their safety as the university plans to expand its surveillance system.

On Thursday morning at about 7:15 a male student reported being robbed at gunpoint by a man wearing a Halloween goblin mask. The student was walking to class and was approached in front of the Student Center. The suspect made off with a backpack with an iPad and books inside of it.

"I was really scared that it happened so early in the morning," said Catherine Jones, a senior at the university.

Students were notified of the attack later Thursday afternoon after authorities and university officials had gathered the necessary information.

The recent pair of armed robberies reported already doubles the total from 2011.

In September, a student was robbed at gunpoint and had his laptop stolen outside the Trojan Grill. James Hinton, 18, was arrested shortly after the crime that also occurred in broad daylight.

No arrests have been made in yesterday's attack.

"If they see that they can get away with it then they're going to keep on doing it," said Lowe, who attends several night classes. "We need to try and do something to make it stop."

School officials say they indeed have been busy at work on expanding security on campus.

"We recently got bids to expand surveillance cameras on campus," said Judy Williams, UALR Director of Communications, in an e-mail. "In the recent past we added a shuttle service to campus, new outdoor security telephones, improved campus lighting, more parking gates, and expanded the campus alert system."

The incident remains an open investigation, according to campus police.

Meanwhile, some students say they've begun finding ways to protect themselves.

"The thing that I'm changing is I don't bring anything of value," Jones said. "I don't bring any cash with me or any debit cards."

Other students have employed self-defense techniques.

"It actually makes me keep my taser and stuff in my pocket and not in my car," said Taylor Horton.

The suspect is described as being 5'6" to 5'8" and about 200 pounds. He was also wearing a black hoodie, blue jeans, and Nike shoes.

While staying staff, veteran students like Catherine Jones expect their university to keep their safety as a priority.

"I think that they're trying," said Jones. "I think that we have to just iron out some more problems and I think it will be a safer place for the students and the staff here."