Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Another robbery rekindles safety concerns at University of Tampa

TAMPA — The details of the crime are familiar: a University of Tampa student robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the night, this time on campus, two blocks north of Kennedy Boulevard.

It happened early Sunday to a 19-year-old who managed to run to safety. It was at least the third similar robbery in recent months.

"It's disheartening," said UT spokesman Eric Cardenas.

UT officials try to educate students, many of whom are from out of town, about dangers just off campus, but they say there's only so much they can do.

They've held safety seminars, highlighted concerns in orientation sessions and spread information about taxis. Next semester they will include UT safety phone numbers on student ID cards.

But ultimately, it's up to the students to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions, Cardenas said.

North of campus is the North Boulevard Homes public housing complex, where a suspect in at least one of the robberies fled. South of campus is busy Kennedy Boulevard, where a student was hit by a car last year and killed.

"We have a lot of students from out of state who don't know Tampa very well," Cardenas said. "I think it's part of the education process."

The violence has prompted Tampa police to increase patrols around the campus, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

All three robberies happened after 2 a.m.

"We've had limited crimes on the campus, but the school is located in the downtown of a major city," McElroy said. "We want to urge the students to exercise personal responsibility."

In January, UT and Tampa police held a student safety seminar, but it "was not very well attended," McElroy said. They're trying to figure out a better way to get the message across, perhaps something online.

In Sunday's robbery, two men approached student Jared Griffin near 310 N Boulevard about 5 a.m. He was on his way to the Metro Market convenience store on Kennedy Boulevard, McElroy said.

Police said Robert Nolan Hall Jr., 21, hit Griffin in the face with a gun several times, and he and 15-year-old Christopher Castro took Griffin's wallet, keys and lighter.

Griffin wasn't seriously hurt, police said, and he ran to get UT security officers after the robbery. The officers chased the suspects into the Oakhurst Square Apartments at 1120 N Boulevard.

Hall was being held in jail without bail on an armed robbery charge. Castro was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. He also faces an armed robbery charge.

The attack is reminiscent of two others that involved UT students and occurred north of campus.

At 3 a.m. Aug. 19, as Ryan McCall, 21, and a companion approached the base of the Eugene Holtsinger Bridge on N Boulevard, a man approached, demanding money, and shot and killed McCall. The killer is still loose, and police have few leads.

Then, about 2:30 a.m. Nov. 7, UT student Patrick G. Flaherty, 19, and a friend were walking south on N Boulevard near Main Street when a man approached them and asked them to buy drugs, police said. The man pulled a black semiautomatic pistol and robbed them before running into North Boulevard Homes.

That robber was described as black, 18 to 20 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches and 160 pounds, and wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap and a New York Yankees jacket.

Police have made no arrests in that case, either.

Another robbery rekindles safety concerns at University of Tampa 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]