Today’s shooting near the University of Maryland College Park was only the latest in a string of high-profile crimes around the campus — a fact students have not overlooked.
Hundreds of students turned to Twitter and Facebook Tuesday morning to share shock, condolences and phone numbers for campus help lines and counseling services. But amidst all the “#RIPs,” another sentiment was repeated over and over: “I can’t believe this happened again.”
On Feb. 10, a man with a handgun robbed a student walking through a campus parking lot, the school paper reported. Three days earlier, two armed suspects robbed three people walking on Lakeland Road around 11 p.m., according to the school paper.
In late January, three men with brass knuckles and a knife beat up a student at the Shanghai Cafe before taking his wallet and phone. Later that day, a gunman entered The Varsity student apartment building near the edge of campus and demanded a student’s laptop, according to the paper.
Then, for the fifth time in three weeks, students got another emergency alert last night: “UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND Shooting reported off campus at the 8700 blk of 36th ave. Suspects seen in a tan Honda Odyssey.”
“Woke up to another crime alert,” one student tweeted. “Surprise, surprise!”
Across social media, other students echoed the sentiment — and the growing perception among a few, at least, that the campus feels less safe.
“I get more texts from UMD Crime Alert than i do from actual people,” one woman wrote.
“College Park is getting out of control with all this crime,” tweeted another student. “UMD is going to lose prospective students.”
Despite these recent incidents, however, violent crime at the university is actually down year-over-year. According to data the school’s Department of Public Safety released in mid-January, there were only seven violent crimes on campus in 2012 — compared to 12 in 2011, and 21 in 2008.
U-Md. Police Chief David Mitchell rejected assertions that the campus is unsafe or has become more dangerous. Of the four robberies or attempted robberies involving U-Md. students in the past few weeks, he said only one occurred on campus. Previous to this spate of crime, Mitchell said the university had gone months without a high-profile violent incident. He characterized the shooting as an isolated event.
"The facts don't back that up," Mitchell said of accusations on Twitter that U-Md. is not safe. "I can't remember the last time we had a homicide."
Still, some students say there have been too many crimes in the area.
“College park is getting too real now,” one student tweeted. “Its time for campusPD to focus on crime rather than speeders, underage drinking, loud music, etc.”
This story has been updated.