Armed robbery of student, blocks from campus, not reported to GW for hours

A student was the victim of an armed robbery near campus Thursday night, a University spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

The victim was approached by a suspect armed with a gun on Hughes Mews near 25th Street at 8:40 p.m., according to a narrative of the event provided by the Metropolitan Police Department. The suspect drew a gun and forced the victim into a home, where the suspect demanded money.

After the victim handed over the money, the suspect assaulted the victim before fleeing down an alley into the 2500 block of I Street, according to the narrative. The case is still under investigation.

The incident took place two blocks from campus but students did not receive a University alert. Alerts are typically sent out when officials deem there is an ongoing threat to the campus community, whether it’s when the University Police Department responds to or is made aware of a potentially dangerous situation, or when MPD shares information about an incident they’re responding to on campus.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said she was unaware of the incident until about 12 p.m. Friday. MPD did not inform the University of the incident until “many hours later” so officials did not see the need to send out an alert, she said.

“An alert is sent out when there’s an ongoing immediate threat to the campus community,” Csellar said. “This is information we learned hours after this happened.”

This policy on alerts has been called into question before: Officials said they didn’t send out an alert to the campus community after a man attempted to sexually abuse two female students near the Foggy Bottom Metro station two years ago because the man was arrested.

MPD spokeswoman Aquita Brown said in an email that MPD prioritizes student safety and that officers work with school officials to report on-campus incidents in a timely manner. In this case, the reporting process was different because the incident took place off campus, she said.

“In situations like this it is up to the victim to determine whether they want to inform campus officials about the offense, as MPD doesn’t want to violate the victims’ privacy rights,” she said.

Brown did not respond to a question clarifying MPD’s policy on how their officials communicate with GW about off-campus events compared to on-campus incidents.

Communication between MPD and the University Police Department has been questioned before. In 2013, GW’s security chief said miscommunication between the two departments led to confusion over two gun threats on campus, including a slow response from D.C. police who responded to an armed robbery on campus.

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