The Varsity attempted robbery

By Casey Leins on February 26, 2013

Parents and students are becoming concerned about safety in places like The Varsity in College Park.

21-year-old Demonte Antonio Spearman was arrested Feb. 6 for attempted robbery at The Varsity apartment complex in College Park, according to Cpl. Larry Johnson of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

Police say officers were called to the 8100 block of Baltimore Avenue on Jan. 27 around 1 p.m. According to Johnson, Spearman entered the common room of the apartment building and pulled out what officers believe to be a fake handgun. He then demanded the computer of the victim, a student who refused to cooperate and who attempted to fight off Spearman. It was only when a witness came into the room and tried to break up the fight that Spearman ran away, said Johnson.

“[Spearman] admitted to his involvement and his actions on that day,” said Johnson.

Because The Varsity is a major off-campus housing facility at the University of Maryland, College Park, the attempted robbery has caused concern from student residents and their parents and has surfaced many security questions about the building.

“The Varsity would benefit from doors that automatically lock,” said resident Samantha Mundie, who said she used to never think twice about locking her door until recently.

“Ever since the incident, my roommates and I have been leaving sticky notes saying to remember to lock the door. We never worried about locking it before, but I am more concerned about it now, more than ever in my two years living here,” said Mundie.

Mundie also said there should be more cameras in the building to reduce crime, such as when residents stole artwork from some of the walls last year. According to Mundie, there are no cameras in the hallways.

Nonetheless, The Varsity has made efforts to improve its security, as seen by the increase in security guards in the building within the last four weeks, especially near the stairwell exits.

These stairwell exits have been a major problem in the past, according to Mundie, who has seen many people prop the doors open with bottles, allowing anyone to be able to enter.

“The weekends are the worst because everyone is coming in and out and alcohol is involved,” said Mundie.

Although Spearman’s attempted robbery has raised many safety concerns at The Varsity, Johnson said, “I wouldn’t say The Varsity is a particular hot-spot for robbery. It can happen at any establishment.”

However, the incident, along with many other crimes that have recently occurred, including a strong armed robbery and the shooting last Tuesday, have made many students feel unsafe about living in the area.

“I feel unsafe now in College Park. It’s scary hearing about so many armed robberies and situations like this where it is difficult to defend yourself,” said student Victoria Ortiz.

“My TA from last semester was traumatized from an armed robbery in College Park and it made it real to me that this happens to people we know.”

Ortiz said she thinks there are always opportunities for improvement for campus safety, such as better Night Ride services so that students can get home safely at night.

 

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