Home Park mugging victim shares experience

Crime on and around campus is something that most students are aware of on some level. For most, though, their experiences with crime will be limited to what they see in television dramas and a heart-pumping scene or two in an action movie.

Others, though, have had a more tangible experience with crime. One Tech student who was recently accosted in the Home Park area spoke with the Technique about his experience. As he wished to remain anonymous, he will be referred to as John Smith for the purposes of this article.

Smith said the event began on the way home from a trip to the BP station around eleven at night. “A friend and I went to the BP station, and when we were coming back, a car pulled up next to us…” said Smith. He says the car was a white or silver sedan, but that neither he nor his friend got a good look at the license plate.

“The passenger door opened, and the passenger showed us a gun. We weren’t exactly sure what was going on, but he pushed my friend and explained what was happening,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the passenger was a black male with short black hair who appeared to be in his late twenties. They didn’t get a good look at the driver.

Smith says one reason for the confusion was the weapon’s size. “It was so small I didn’t realize it was a gun at first…it fit entirely in his hand.”

After the robber demanded the pair’s wallets, Smith moved to comply with the request but was stopped.

“I reached for my wallet in my backpack, and he told me to show him my hands and took my backpack,” said Smith.

Smith said he and his friend waited until the robbers left the area before calling 911. “We waited until he drove away. Once they were out of sight…we called the police. We told the 911 operator we had just been robbed at gunpoint. The police response time was very quick; one said he was one block in one direction, the other one and a half in the opposite direction,” said Smith.

“They questioned us there…they took our statements several times. I was talking to detectives for a few days afterwards. They would call every so often and give me updates about the case,” said Smith. No new leads have been found in the case.

According to Smith, the police said there were several security cameras in the area, but none were positioned to get a good look at the car or its occupants.

Smith said this was not his first experience with crime in Home Park. Soon after moving into the area, several cars on his street were broken into, and his neighbor’s car was stolen. His neighbor’s vehicle was returned later that evening, as a police officer found a man driving it in a nearby area.

The GTPD was contacted about crime in the Home Park area, but didn’t want to comment on another agency’s jurisdiction. Home Park falls in Atlanta Police Zone 5, and the Technique was referred to the APD, but at the time of press no official word had been received from the APD.

The GTPD did, however, offer general advice on how students could protect themselves.

Ian Mayberry, an officer in the GTPD and the initial point of contact, said, “What I can provide is the information on safe travel to and from campus, including [using the] Stingerette service and not walking late at night, not walking alone, etc.”

More safety tips can be found online at the . Most are focused on two areas: how to remain in safe areas and how to deflect criminals’ interest by making yourself into a more difficult and less valuable target.

Parking in well-lit areas and avoiding stairwells in remote areas of a building are examples of the former. Keeping valuables hidden, not walking or working alone at night and avoiding using ATMs after dark are examples of the latter. The GTPD website also offers weekly breakdowns of crimes on campus, but, again, due to Home Park being out of their jurisdiction, happenings there are mostly excluded from the reports.

A document in the Parent’s section of the Student Affairs site called “Take the Time, Prevent the Crime” lists several other tips and important facts, including a reminder that the GTPD’s jurisdiction ends 500 yards off-campus, stats on the size and resources of the GTPD and several safety tips similar to those available on the GTPD’s site.