After students are robbed in weekend crime spree, DePaul acknowledges ‘sad reality’ of Chicago crime

CHICAGO — After several DePaul University students were targeted in a robbery spree across the school’s Lincoln Park campus, university officials issued a statement on Saturday acknowledging the “sad reality” of criminal activity in Chicago.

“Chicago continues to face ongoing challenges with criminal activity across the city. We must acknowledge this sad reality and respond accordingly,” President Robert L. Manuel wrote.

His message came hours after several of the school’s students fell victim to a robbery crew that swept through campus beginning around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Three women, two 20-year-olds and a 19-year-old, were walking in the 2200 block of North Sheffield when three men emerged from an alley. They battered and robbed the victims, taking wallets, phones, and purses, before escaping in a red SUV. An officer at the scene said the suspects were three Black men in their mid-20s. One had facial hair, and another wore an orange winter cap.

At about the same time, two 19-year-old women were robbed in the 900 block of West Fullerton near the Fullerton CTA station.

Yet another woman was robbed as she tried to enter her residence, a DePaul-affiliated apartment complex in the 1200 block of West Fullerton. Officers said a red SUV was involved in that robbery, too.

A fourth holdup was reported in the 1700 block of North Clybourn, but it’s unclear if that victim has any links to DePaul.

One of the DePaul students went to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to treat minor injuries.

In the school’s statement, Manuel said DePaul’s public safety office is on “heightened alert” in light of Saturday’s incidents.

“We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with the police and our elected officials,” he said. “We will continue to proactively work with them.”

Here is Manuel’s full statement as posted on the university’s website:

Earlier this morning, the university issued two public safety alerts to report that three robberies and a battery had occurred on our Lincoln Park Campus between 1 and 1:30 a.m. Unfortunately, all three crimes involved our students, and Public Safety responded immediately to provide medical care and support. We are deeply upset our students had this alarming experience on our campus, and we wanted to update you on the action steps the university is taking with the City of Chicago and inside our own institution.

As reported in the public safety alerts, the incidents happened within minutes of each other between 1 and 1:30 a.m. in three separate locations on our Lincoln Park Campus: the walkway next to the Fullerton El Station, the corner of Belden and Sheffield, and the corner of Kenmore and Fullerton. We believe the same offenders were responsible for all three incidents. In all three cases on our campus, the offenders approached our students and demanded their belongings. One of the offenders also hit a student in the face. Again, university staff are working with the students involved to make sure they are receiving care and support. 

As immediate action steps, DePaul will increase its public safety presence on both campuses with additional security officers. We also have filed our concerns with the mayor, police commander and elected officials. 

Chicago continues to face ongoing challenges with criminal activity across the city. We must acknowledge this sad reality and respond accordingly. Public Safety remains on heightened alert and is actively working with the Chicago Police Department to address these most recent incidents. We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with the police and our elected officials. We will continue to proactively work with them. 

We know how happy our students are to be back on campus for a new school year, and we share your excitement. At the same time, we must emphasize the importance of paying attention to your surroundings and using DePaul’s safety resources – especially after dark:

  • The safety escort service is available on the Lincoln Park Campus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week. If you are out after dark, using this service is the best way to stay safe.
  • During the week, the inter-campus shuttle is available between the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
  • To travel to residential destinations just outside the boundaries of Lincoln Park, use the Vinnie Van service.
  • Note the location of phones and the blue emergency call boxes on campus, and don’t ever be afraid to use them.
  • Stay alert, trust your instincts, and travel in groups after dark.
  • Report any criminal activity or suspicious individuals to Public Safety at 773-325-7777 (Lincoln Park) or 312-362-8400 (Loop).
  • For more resources and tips, please visit the Public Safety website.

Keeping our university community safe always remains a top priority, and please know we take incidents like this extremely seriously. As we shared last week, campus safety is one of our initiatives for the year ahead. This Thursday, Sept. 14, the university will host a Campus Safety Summit at noon in the Lincoln Park Student Center, Room 120. We highly encourage you to join the conversation and help us identify how we can support each other. More information about the summit, including a registration link, is available here.

In addition to the Campus Safety Summit, Student Affairs is planning a series of educational sessions, and more information will be shared as soon as it is available. 

Please continue to take care of yourself and take care of each other. Thank you for everything you do to Take Care DePaul.

Robbery crews also targeted DePaul’s campus in the spring.

  • A 37-year-old woman was carjacked by two men who implied they had weapons at 11:39 p.m. on May 29, police said. She was getting into her car in the 2300 block of North Halsted, directly in front of DePaul’s School of Music building, when they took her black Volkswagen Jetta.
  • Two DePaul students, ages 19 and 20, were robbed at gunpoint in the 1300 block of West Fullerton around 4:15 a.m. on May 29. The men were walking when two offenders exited a black car to rob them. After the holdup, the victims went to University Hall, a DePaul residence hall, and a security officer called 911, identifying them as students.
  • A 19-year-old DePaul student was robbed in the 2200 block of North Lincoln around 4:30 p.m. on June 12. He told police that the robber implied that he had a gun and demanded his property, which the victim turned over. Two women were also robbed in the area around the same time.

Update September 10, 6:03 p.m.— Chicago police have issued a community alert that links the three DePaul-area robberies to a group of three or four men.

The alert said the men approached women on the street and demanded their property, saying, “Give me everything” or “Give me all you got.” They punch any victims who refuse to cooperate in the head and body, police said.

CPD said the crew struck three times on Saturday: at 1 a.m. in the 2200 block of North Sheffield; at 1:20 a.m. in the 900 block of West Fullerton; and at 1:30 a.m. in the 1200 block of West Fullerton.

They described the group as Black men between 20 and 26 years old, standing 5’6″ to 5’8″ tall. Each wore black face masks and black hoodies.

Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Area Three detectives about crime pattern P23-3-065 at 312-744-8263.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com