Student robbed at gunpoint; investigation ongoing

For one male student, a Monday night walk near campus turned dangerous when he was approached at gunpoint and asked to hand over his money.

“The only thing of value I had was my phone, so [the suspect] took it and ran off as I walked in the opposite direction to my house to call the police,” said the victim, who preferred to remain anonymous.

The student was approached just after 8 p.m. Monday in an alleyway between Maplewood Avenue and Cooper Street; shortly after he called, Peoria and Bradley police arrived to search the area.

Bradley University Chief of Police Brian Joschko said the police found a suspect a few minutes later.

“We apprehended [the suspect] a distance from campus,” he said. “We had every reason to believe the correct person was in custody.”

Later, Joschko said the suspect was released because of a lack of evidence. It was at that time, nearly seventeen hours later, that the BUPD released a safety alert email to campus.

Joschko said the email was not sent earlier because police had arrested a suspect.

“There was not a continuing threat to campus at that time,” he said. “When the situation changed and we released the suspect, we wanted to alert the students of that situation.”

The victim said he believes students should have been warned sooner.

“There should have been a ForeWarn text sent as soon as the police found out,” he said. “He easily could have robbed more people on his way down the hill, where he was found.”

The victim said he identified the suspect at the police station as the man who had robbed him, but the suspect was still released.

“I always felt safe on campus until last night,” he said. “Now I feel even more scared because Peoria Police released him from custody based on lack of evidence, after I identified him.”

The student said his warning to others is to remain alert.

“When someone has a gun and wants money, it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl, big or small,” he said. “I always thought I would be much less likely to get robbed because of my gender and size. Also, don’t be distracted while walking.”

Senior marketing major Lindsey Sansone, who lives close to where the robbery took place, said the email was an insufficient police response to the campus community.

“After I found out what happened, I was waiting for a ForeWarn text or email to be sent out. When none was received I felt betrayed by the university,” she said. “I would not have found out at all if I did not know the students who lived in that house.”

Sansone also said she felt the email inaccurately portrayed the situation.

“[The email) said that the mugging happened between Maplewood and Cooper in the 800 block, rather than saying it happened in the alley less than a block behind Markin,” she said. “Also, it stated that the suspect displayed a handgun, when in actuality it was pointed at the student being mugged. To me, that is a big difference and I see it as the university trying to downplay the severity of the incident.”