Robberies escalate in U area

Police believe the same pair of suspects could be responsible for the recent armed robberies.

Hannah Weikel

A string of armed robberies committed in the University of Minnesota area in the last week could be connected, police say.
 
 
Since Tuesday night, four robberies committed at gunpoint have occurred in neighborhoods near the University. 
 
 
The Minneapolis Police Department thinks the robberies could have been committed by the same two suspects, according to a Minneapolis Police Department Facebook post.
 
 
Tuesday’s robbery prompted the University to send out a crime alert the next day. A neighborhood safety notice was issued by the school Thursday after Wednesday and Thursday’s incidents. 
 
 
The most recent robbery, which was committed early Saturday morning, was posted on the MPD Facebook page with an offer of a monetary award for any information leading to an arrest. 
 
 
Wednesday’s robbery occurred at 10:15 p.m. on a foot bridge near 14th Avenue Southeast in the Como neighborhood.
 
 
Bengt Svensson, a University biochemistry researcher, said he was crossing the bridge when someone ran up and grabbed his jacket from behind. Two men — one with a gun — proceeded to take Svensson’s phone, wallet and briefcase before fleeing, he said.
 
 
“I didn’t really realize what was happening,” Svensson said. “I thought they were some of the college kids that run over the bridge to the hockey field. But when I saw the gun in my face and they said they wanted my money, that’s when I knew it was a robbery.”
 
 
Within the hour, Svensson’s credit card was used at a BP gas station on Lexington Parkway and a McDonald’s in St. Paul, he said.
 
 
Calvin Carpenter, a 19-year-old University student, was also held-up at gunpoint at the entrance of the Bridges apartment building at about3:20 a.m. on Thursday.
 
 
“I noticed them starting to trail me as I was crossing the last street to go into my building, and they sort of looked a little seedy. And they looked at me funny, so I just really started to hurry,” he said. “But I didn’t expect to get a gun pulled on me.” 
 
 
Carpenter said none of his belongings were taken because he entered the lobby of his apartment, which was manned by a security guard.
 
 
“This happens … every couple of months,” said Minneapolis Police Department Lieutenant Sean McGinty in a video posted to Facebook. “Students walk alone or they walk with headphones on — usually their phones or iPads are out, so I believe that they’re just an easier victim for people.”