Letter to the Editor: Carjacked clarity

I was one of the students involved in the carjacking of the 4-RIDE van Nov. 20 and would like to clarify the events of that early morning.

After twice calling the University Police Department and waiting 40 minutes, the 4-RIDE van pulled up in front of Gelman Library at about 3:30 a.m. The driver recorded my GWorld information and stepped outside the van to check front left tire. He also instructed the driver of another car, which was blocking the alley between West End and the Academic Center, to move.

The 4-RIDE van drove into the alley and stopped halfway. Again the driver stepped out of the car to check the same tire. At this point, the assailant, who was hiding in the alleyway, attacked the driver and forced himself into the 4-RIDE vehicle. Before the attacker could drive off, I threw myself from the vehicle and ran toward Gelman Library. As reported by the Metropolitan Police, the assailant then crashed into three parked cars and fled the scene only to be apprehended by police shortly afterward.

In Thursday’s front-page article, “Man carjacks GW van,” UPD Director Dolores Stafford said “the driver did an excellent job of protecting the students and delaying the carjacker until students got out of the van.” I disagree. Stopping in the middle of a dark alley at 3:30 a.m. and leaving three students in a van by themselves hardly seems like an excellent job of protecting students.

After the carjacking, I am left wondering if there is a prescribed route that 4-RIDE is supposed to follow. Why did the driver stop in a poorly lit alley to check a tire he had already inspected? Why would the 4-RIDE driver, whom we trust to take us home safely, negligently take such unnecessary risks?

As a senior, I have taken 4-RIDE several times and noticed that drivers often drive at excessive speeds, take unconventional routes and are rather discourteous. Clearly, the behavior of UPD employees needs to be consistent with the purposes of UPD: to ensure the safety of students. I urge the University to address the issues within UPD so incidents like the carjacking of the 4-RIDE van are not repeated.

-Alexandre F. Gauthier

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