Carjackers attack couple near the U

Elizabeth Cook

A man was held at gunpoint and his car was stolen Friday in the Prospect Park area.

At approximately 8 p.m., communications sophomore Laura Gatz and her boyfriend, Nick Norman, returned from grocery shopping in Woodbury.

As they walked from the back parking lot into Gatz’s apartment on Erie Street Southeast, they noticed four men standing near the building.

While Gatz stayed in the apartment, Norman went to get more groceries from the car when a semiautomatic weapon was placed against his temple.

The men took his car, wallet and cell phone.

“I’m pretty nervous about going to that neighborhood, especially at night,” said Norman, a University of St. Thomas student.

Before the incident, Gatz said, she had never heard of any such incident in the neighborhood.

After the incident, she warned her neighbors about what happened.

“A lot of people have a false sense of security (around here),” Gatz said.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said the Prospect Park neighborhood is quieter than the Marcy-Holmes and Como neighborhoods because there are more homeowners and long-term residents.

But, he said, such incidents are still a concern for police, and they are trying to pull all their resources together to address these problems.

Students are most often the targets of University-area crimes and should comply with thieves’ demands, Hestness said.

“It’s not worth putting your life on the line for your property,” Hestness said.

Minneapolis police spokesman Ron Reier said this type of crime happens much more often than anyone would like.

“To me, one robbery or carjacking is a problem,” Reier said.

David Frasch, a psychology senior who lives in University Commons Apartments, said there have been many reports of cars being broken into in the neighborhood.

Frasch said his friend’s car was broken into a few days ago, and before that, his bicycle was stolen.

Last spring, Frasch recalled seeing officers with guns looking for a suspect in the Prospect Park neighborhood.

“(It) seems like we’re right on the edge of campus Ö where crime starts,” Frasch said.

Norman said police had not yet found his car.