Students received a Clery Safety Act Alert regarding an off-campus armed robbery in the residential Home Park neighborhood off of West Campus midday Wednesday, Aug. 31. The incident happened between Calhoun St. NW and Center St. NW at approximately 11:30 a.m.
A black male wearing a white shirt with black pants, estimated to be 25 years old and 5-foot-8, approached the student with a handgun and demanded that the student hand over his backpack. The student did so, and the suspect fled in an unknown direction, according to the report.
Though it is not Institute property, many students live off-campus in Home Park.
“We have students who live in Home Park, and they go to [Tech],” said Alex Gutierrez, an officer of the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD). “I work with sororities, fraternities [and] freshman classes and reach out to them as much as possible to make them aware of how they can prevent these sorts of incidents.”
One of these residents is Lukas Szpak, a fourth-year MSE major, who has heard about crime in Home Park but has never seen it personally.
“Now I’ll probably be more on watch than I was before, but I don’t really have much of a choice. I have to walk from [Home Park] to Tech with my backpack basically every day,” Szpak said.
The end of 2010 was marked by a spate of crimes in the area of Home Park, including the armed robbery of two brothers in their home. This is the ninth Clery Act Safety Alert that students have received since the end of the spring semester.
“We have a large police force for a university our size but we really cannot be everywhere at every second. Crime is universal and we really depend on the community to call in to help us identify suspicious activity which we can then go in and investigate,” Gutierrez said.
The incident is under investigation by Atlanta Police Department (APD). Home Park is in Zone 5 of APD jurisdiction, where incidences of robbery are down by 2 percent, according to APD official crime statistics, with 265 isolated occurrences for the time between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20.
“Our jurisdiction is on Board of Regents property and extends 500 yards outside of that. So, Home Park is in our jurisdiction,” Gutierrez said. “APD has an officer assigned to patrol the Home Park neighborhood. We frequently drive through the Home Park area to patrol Georgia Tech Property along 14th Street.”
GTPD has cooperated with Georgia State Police and APD to reduce crime around campus. Gutierrez warns students to take care as they travel and rely on student and community cooperation.
“We tell everyone to be aware of their surroundings and if they see someone suspicious to call GTPD if on campus and 911 if you are off campus immediately.”