By Rachel Royster | Editor-in-Chief, Danika Young | LTVN Reporter/Anchor
In a Presidential Perspective sent out Thursday, Baylor assured its students, faculty and staff of the security measures in place to keep them safe on and off campus. The announcement comes just over a week after a Fort Collins, Colo., junior had her car stolen at gunpoint four blocks from campus.
On the first day of the spring semester, the student — who asked that her name not be used — arrived home around 8 p.m. after getting off work. She parked her car in the gated parking area of her home and when she got out, a man approached her, pointed a gun at her head and demanded her keys.
“He waited for me to get out of my car, because he had his back up against our house in a blind spot. He just ran out of the alley with his gun already out,” she said to LTVN reporter Danika Young. “Then he took my keys and my car and then told me to walk the other way. I hid behind the neighbor’s AC unit and called 911.”
Waco Police Department Public Information Officer Cierra Shipley confirmed that police were called to the scene of an aggravated robbery at 8 p.m. on Jan. 17. She said the victim gave the suspect their keys and the suspect left the area, leaving the victim unharmed.
“Basically, my entire interaction with him, I thought I was gonna get shot,” the victim said. “Then after the fact, when he told me to walk the other way, I remember I wasn’t walking fast enough, I guess. So he said, ‘Walk faster, or I’ll shoot you.’”
Her roommate, a John’s Creek, Ga., junior — who also did not want to be named — received a text from another roommate at 8:05 p.m. not to come home for any reason. Three of her five roommates were upstairs in the house while the victim hid from the suspect outside.
“Initially for me, I was very, very scared because I wasn’t there,” the John’s Creek, Ga., junior said. “[The victim] wasn’t texting in our group chat, so I thought something had happened. I thought I was going to come back to a very gruesome scene, which very thankfully was not the case.
After receiving the all-clear from her roommates to come home, she returned and Waco PD came soon after. They began their police report and notified the residents that they’d already put out an all-points bulletin (APB) — a broadcast alert from one police station to all others in an area, state, etc., as with instructions to arrest a particular suspect or suspects — for the stolen car.
According to the roommate, the victim’s keys had AirTags, so police were able to track where the suspect was for the most part, except for an 18-minute period where the live location paused before it came back again and they were able to see where the suspect was.
“He started coming back this way and had made it close to our house, which freaked everyone out,” the John’s Creek, Ga., junior said. “So we left, and we went somewhere else — everyone literally was throwing things in bags. We got out within like 5-10 minutes. I had to bring my dog with me. She had to bring her dog with her — we basically cleared out the entire house. Then when we were at some other friends’ house, we got a call maybe like five or 10 minutes later, saying, ‘hey, we found the car.’”
Shipley said officers later recovered the car near the 1900 Block of Richter, but the suspect was not located.
The John’s Creek, Ga., junior said after she was able to process the situation and do what she could for her roommate, she immediately said something in her sorority GroupMe.
“Waco is a very sketchy place. We all know that,” she said. “But you always hear of maybe a robbery, but not armed. The fact that this was armed, and it happened right behind our home to me meant that they had at least cased our home and had been watching it, and there’s no telling had if they had done that to other people. My main concern was my roommate and our house, but also my concern was is this going to happen to other girls? They need to be aware of it.”
In the fall semester, she said she noticed a man walking past her front door through the gate on the ring camera. Since moving into the house half-way through the fall semester, it happened up to seven or eight times.
“We watched this guy walk from like the back of the alleyway to where all the cars are parked straight through and out the gate,” she said. “He didn’t touch anything. He didn’t look anywhere. He just walked straight through, which I thought was very weird. And then it kept happening again and again and again and again with random people. And these guys clearly didn’t look like Baylor students. They like didn’t have on any Baylor paraphernalia or anything like that showing they were associated with the school.”
The John’s Creek, Ga., junior said now after everything has happened, she’s worried the university is “sweeping it under the rug” without increasing their security measures.
The Presidential Perspective sent out Thursday told students, faculty and staff that the Baylor Police Department patrols campus and the surrounding area “24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
“Our Baylor Department of Public Safety, which includes BUPD,” the announcement said, “has developed a strong working partnership with law enforcement agencies from Waco PD to the FBI to ensure we are protecting the Baylor community and building an environment in which our students, faculty, staff and visitors can thrive.”
The John’s Creek, Ga., junior said she’s glad Baylor sent something out after the events of the first week of school.
“But I want to know, what’s their plan of action?” she said. “And then how long are they going to make it last? Is it going to be something just to make us feel safe for maybe two or three weeks? And then it’d be dialed back again? Or is this actually going to be an ongoing thing for the next however many years to come?”
Mark Childers, associate vice president for public safety and security, said in a statement to The Baylor Lariat that police can’t always stop bad things from happening, but their commitment is to stay in front of issues and work 24/7 to keep the community safe.
The John’s Creek, Ga., junior said the main thing she wants to see shift is how the students band together to support each other in a time a fear such as this.
“Baylor’s a great place for community in the first place,” she said, “but I think we just need to up that community more. If guys know that girls are walking home late at night, it takes 5-10 minutes to drive them where they need to go or walk with them. Just help each other and lift each other up. Because it’s obviously a really hard situation. That’s my biggest thing is to stay safe and build a community even more where everyone can rely on everyone.”