Mugger accosts student at gunpoint

A GW sophomore was robbed at gunpoint Sunday at around 2 a.m. in front of the Columbia Plaza C building on Virginia Avenue.

The University Police Department has not made an arrest and has posted crime alerts on campus to warn the GW community of the robbery.

A gunman demanded Ari Senders’ wallet as he was walking to his home on the corner of 22nd and F streets from the Columbia Plaza garage.

Senders gave his wallet to the man who immediately ran down Virginia Avenue away from campus.

“He actually came from a small bench area, so he could have caught anyone coming out of the area,” Senders said. “I heard him coming up from behind me, so I turned around, and then he pulled the gun out.”

Senders said he asked the robber to drop his wallet and take only the money, but about $30 in cash, a credit card, his driver’s license and a Columbia Plaza parking garage entry card were stolen.

The UPD and the Metropolitan Police Department are jointly investigating the crime, Senders said.

An off-duty MPD officer was stationed inside the garage at the time of the robbery. But because the robbery occurred off campus, no emergency police phones were nearby when Senders was robbed, preventing him from calling for help.

UPD Associate Director Anthony RoccoGrande said no attempts have been made to put an emergency phone near Columbia Plaza because that would mean gaining permission to put the device on property that is not GW-owned.

So far, the police investigation does not suggest the suspect is a GW student, according to UPD.

“We (UPD officers) are looking at all the other reports involving robberies and seeing if we can see a connection,” RoccoGrande said. “We’ll use whatever tactics and strategies we need to try to come to closure on this.”

RoccoGrande stressed the need to arrest the offender so “there will not be too many robberies like this in the future, and so we can try to keep this type of character off the campus and out of the District of Columbia.”

Nine robberies, armed and unarmed, were reported on campus in 1996, according to UPD records.

“Fortunately we do not have a rash of armed robberies,” RoccoGrande said. “But we are very concerned when it happens. And hopefully there will not be too many in the future.”

“I was really surprised because people walk back from there alone at much later hours,” Senders said. “I was only a block from where I live. It wasn’t like I was going to call the escort service.

“I think people really shouldn’t feel unsafe around the general campus,” he said. “It’s when you go across 23rd Street you find problems.”

Victims of street robbery should comply with muggers when approached, according to UPD.

“It is best to give them your wallet and your purse rather than offer any resistance,” RoccoGrande said.

Senders said the University administration has been helpful, quickly replacing his GWorld card without questions.

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