Five GW students were arrested Friday night for underage possession of alcohol outside Tokay Liquors in the Columbia Plaza apartment complex, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The five students, whose names and ages could not be released by MPD, were arrested at about 6:45 p.m. outside the liquor store by undercover police officers, said MPD Ofc. Kervin Johnson.
Undercover units happened to come across individuals, Johnson said.
The officers thought the students might be under 21 and asked them for identification and Social Security numbers, Johnson said.
Johnson said the officers were not at the complex as part of a sting operation.
There was not an operation to check to see if people had improper IDs, he said. Undercover officers can go anywhere they want to. It wasn’t like they were there for a reason.
Store owners Kyu and Insook Kwak said they do not allow individuals to purchase alcohol who are under 21, but students who are underage often enter the store with older friends to purchase alcohol.
We check ID every time, Insook Kwak said.
When owners suspect an ID may be fake, they ask students to verify their addresses or their birthdays, Insook Kwak said. She said this is the first time she has heard of police apprehending students near the store.
The Kwaks said about 90 percent of their business comes from students.
University Police said they were not aware of the arrests Friday night, which they said they had not participated in because Columbia Plaza falls under MPD jurisdiction.
The students may be charged through GW’s Student Judicial Services.
Juana Del Canto, a hairstylist at Evenco, a hair salon next to Tokay Liquors, was working inside the store during the arrests. She said the liquor store has attracted a large police presence recently.
(The police) have been hiding around here, she said.
Alissa Shapiro, a 21-year-old senior, said the store has recently strengthened its carding policy.
They’ve been carding a lot lately, she said. I’ve been going there since I was a freshman and I’ve never been carded.-Ashley M. Heher