Responses to TXT-U alert system aid in arrest

Also, a fight in Arby’s ends with a chair through the window.

by Branden Largent

Police arrested a juvenile for aggravated robbery of a University of Minnesota student after responses to the school’s text alert system.

The student was walking in the lower level of the Law School on the West Bank late Saturday afternoon when the suspect asked for directions to the computer lab.

The student pointed to the lab, but the 16-year-old suspect didn’t leave and instead pushed the student to the ground. He pointed a knife at the student and demanded money, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. The student screamed for help and the suspect ran.

University police sent a TXT-U alert describing the incident and the suspect, and students and staff called police with information in response. The callers saw the suspect at the Magrath Library on St. Paul campus and the University Recreation and Wellness Center, where police found him four hours after the incident.

Miner said this is one of the first times the University’s TXT-U crime alert, which is primarily used to warn students about dangerous situations, had responses with information on the suspect.

“That was a nice use of [TXT-U] that we weren’t exactly intending on,” he said.

Police showed the suspect to the student, who confirmed it was him. The suspect admitted to the robbery and police booked him in the Juvenile Detention Center for aggravated robbery, Miner said.

Miner said police interacted with the suspect a week ago when he was walking through Ferguson Hall and checking for unlocked doors. Police issued him a trespassing warning and noted that he may be suspected in thefts from other University buildings.

Arby’s loses a window

A fight which started over religious beliefs cost the Stadium Village Arby’s a window Friday afternoon.

Arby’s is not pressing charges against Marcus Ford, who threw the first punch and then a chair, which shattered the window.

Ford said he was finishing his lunch, when a man came up to a group of college students sitting nearby and began talking about religion. The students were unresponsive, and the man started using religious slurs.

Upset by what he heard, Ford began arguing with the man. He called the man “an idiot” and turned to walk away. The man grabbed Ford by his collar. Ford brought the man to the ground and started “punching on him.”

The manager rushed into the dining area to break up the fight. After the manager pulled Ford off the man, the man called him a racial slur, Ford said.

Ford threw a chair at the man, who ducked out of the way, and the chair broke through one of the restaurant’s windows.

“I wasn’t trying to break the window,” Ford said. “It wasn’t my intention at all.”

The man ran away after Ford shattered the window, which will cost about $500 to replace.

“Had he not put his hands on me, we probably wouldn’t have fought,” Ford said.

The police told Ford that even though he initially acted in self-defense, it stopped once Ford overpowered the man.

“I could have been the bigger man and walked away. But chose not to and that’s my fault, and I have to live with the consequences of that situation,” Ford said, who has to pay for the damages. He said he apologized to the staff and the customers for the disturbance and for breaking the window.