Campus manhunt ends in arrest


By Nick Dean
Editor in Chief

One of two suspects in robberies of two local cash lending stores was arrested on Baylor campus at 3:43 a.m. Tuesday, hours after an on-campus manhunt.

According to the Bellmead Police Department, a Cash Store located at 1517 N. Interstate 35 Access Road in Bellmead was robbed at gunpoint Monday morning by two men of slim builds. One of the men asked for all the money in the store while the other waited by the door. The two robbers were seen leaving the store in a silver Ford Taurus with chrome rims.

Later in the morning, the Cash Store located at 1333 N. Valley Mills Lane in Beverly Hills was robbed by two men fitting the same descriptions.

Police were notified that a car matching the silver Ford reported in Monday morning’s incidents was at the Casa Royale apartment complex located in the 1100 block of Speight Avenue.

“Waco Police and Beverly Hills Police converged [at Casa Royale] and talked to the owner of the vehicle,” said Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak. During the conversation with the vehicle’s owner, two armed men jumped out of an apartment window and ran west down Speight Avenue toward Eighth Street and, subsequently, Baylor’s campus.

Doak said the suspects entered campus between 10:45 and 10:55 p.m. At the intersection of Eighth and Speight, one of the suspects turned left and ran toward I-35 while the other ran toward La Salle Avenue, Doak said.

Waco Police officers notified Baylor Police that the suspects were headed toward campus. Many campus police officers were directing outbound traffic from the Ferrell Center following the men’s basketball game against Kansas University on Monday night.

A Baylor alert e-mail, text message and phone call were sent out to students, faculty and staff around 11:15 p.m. notifying them of the two armed suspects and advising everyone to remain indoors until further notice.

Doak said some officers were instructed to leave their traffic posts and begin a “systematic sweep” of the campus, beginning from the Eighth Street Parking Garage. The police set up a perimeter around the campus while other officers searched every open building on campus.

No suspects were found on campus during the sweep. However, a man was arrested near Penland Residence Hall during the campuswide search, unrelated to the manhunt. An Aramark employee matching the description of the suspects was stopped and questioned by Baylor Police, leading to his arrest for an outstanding warrant.

The suspect that ran toward the interstate was last seen near the corner of the I-35 Access Road and Eighth Street. Doak said Baylor Police assume the suspect crossed the bridge that spans I-35.

Baylor sent its second alert message to students, faculty and staff at 12:45 a.m. announcing that students could return to their dorms with caution. However, minutes after the all clear was given, Doak said the Baylor Police Department received five calls from different locations notifying officers of two loud, gunshot-like noises the callers had heard.

“We were amazed because we had five separate calls at different locations,” Doak said. “With the cooperation of the Waco Police Department and all of [Baylor’s] officers, we fanned out and assigned people to different locations where gunshots were heard. It didn’t make sense why we could get these calls from different locations at the same time.”

Doak said officers, after talking with maintenance men near one of the caller’s locations, ruled the two loud noises to be fireworks set off by young people.

At 3:43 a.m. in front of Brooks Residential College on Dutton Avenue, the Bellmead Police Department arrested a man matching the description of the second suspect.

Sammie Jerome Antonio Jackson, an 18-year-old from Dallas, was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault and booked into the McLennan County Jail at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Bail was set at $50,000. A second aggravated assault charge was added at 10:30 a.m.

A jail spokesman said bail had not been set for the additional charge. As of press time, Jackson was still being held at McLennan County Jail.

The Bellmead Police Department has identified the suspect-at-large as Vernon Ray Hart, a 19-year-old from Dallas. Bellmead Police ask that any information about his whereabouts be reported to the department at 254-799-0251.