Until recently, the area near campus seemed to be immune to the recent rash of armed robberies the city of Peoria has experienced.
But last Friday about noon, senior accounting major Lauren Peterson was walking home from class when she was robbed at gun point.
She was walking past Whittier Primary School when she noticed a man staring at her, but she brushed it off and kept walking.
“I got to Barker [Avenue] and Cooper [Street] when someone jumped on my back,” Peterson said. “At first I thought it was someone I knew, but then I realized it wasn’t.”
She said it was the man who was staring at her, and he then started asking for her bag and money, which she didn’t have.
“That’s when he pulled the gun,” Peterson said. “He said the gun was loaded and he was going to shoot me if I didn’t cooperate.”
She said she kept expecting the man to leave because she didn’t have any money, but when she realized he wasn’t going to, she gave him her bag, which was later found with nothing missing in the back yard of a nearby home.
Peterson said the most shocking thing to her was not only that the robbery took place in the middle of a sunny day, but there were three witnesses very close to the incident.
There was a man sitting on his front porch, but he did nothing to help, even though Peterson said she was screaming for someone to call the police.
There were also two Bradley students walking nearby, and they did call 911.
Peoria police arrived on the scene and sent a police K-9 to search for the man, but came up with negative results.
University Police Chief Dave Baer said the situation was unique in its timing and location.
“These things happen on occasion, but they almost always happen at night,” he said. “We have not had a robbery close to campus for quite some time.”
Baer said if a student, or anyone, is told to hand their wallet or purse over to someone, just do it.
“Is the price of a piece of cloth or leather worth it? Quite frankly, it’s not,” he said. “You just want to get rid of the person. Just give [the purse or wallet] to him.”
While situations such as Peterson’s are nearly impossible to avoid, Baer said students should constantly pay attention to their surroundings, even during the day.
He also said students shouldn’t carry more than they need to with them.
“At a maximum, carry your ID card, your driver’s license and a small amount of cash,” Baer said.
The location of the robbery occurred within the BUPD patrol area, and Baer said his officers do patrol in that area and will continue doing so.
Peterson said since the incident, she’s become more cautious.
“I try not to walk by myself anymore,” she said.
Peoria police are investigating the robbery.