The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 28th

Police Keep Up Search In Attack

The two students attacked near the Coker Arboretum on Jan. 19 described the two robbers as average.

Several weeks after two UNC students were robbed at gunpoint on campus, University Police Chief Derek Poarch said no arrests have been made and that the investigation is continuing.

Poarch said the Department of Public Safety has received numerous tips from Chapel Hill-Carrboro Crime Stoppers and other sources since two students were held up in the parking area behind Morehead Planetarium next to the Coker Arboretum on Jan. 19.

After the incident, police distributed safety alerts on campus describing the robbers as white men in their early 20s. The alert stated that one man had blond hair and facial hair and that the other was thin and had brown hair.

Although many leads already have been exhausted, Poarch said police officials will continue to gather information.

Poarch said he could not make a prediction about the possibility of an arrest.

But victim Justin Cunningham, a junior from Salisbury, expressed doubts that an arrest will ever be made because he does not feel confident in his ability to make a positive identification.

"The robbers' descriptions are pretty average: average height, average build, white males," he said. "Even if they were students on campus, there are hundreds of people who could fit that description."

Cunningham said that for the first week and a half after the incident, the police called him every day. He said their phone calls have since tapered off, but he said officers continue to drop off pictures at his residence hall to see if he can identify the robbers.

He and his friend Emily Miller, who was walking with him at the time of the incident, also helped to create police sketches of the two men.

The sketches, along with a brief warning, have been distributed to campus classrooms and residence halls.

Miller said she had hoped there would be more concrete results by now but she understands that she and Cunningham did not have a lot of information to give police.

Miller also said she does not blame UNC for a lack of campus security. She said the Arboretum is not an area on campus where bus shuttles can run or guards can stand watch for safety.

"There are just certain areas that should be avoided (by students)," she said.

Cunningham said he also thinks the robbery was an isolated incident but that hasn't stopped him from adopting several precautions. He said he now keeps near the road when walking alone at night.

But he continues to walk through the Arboretum at night in groups. "Four or five days after the robbery happened, I'd be kind of nervous when I walked around at night," he said. "But now, it's almost like it didn't happen."

But Poarch said students should never take safety for granted. Chapel Hill students need to adopt the same safety tips they would use in any medium-sized city, he said.

Poarch said this includes such basic measures as parking and walking in well-lit areas, as well as letting someone know where you are going, what time you should arrive and when you will return.

He said these precautions should be used on and off campus. "You just can't be carefree with your safety anywhere."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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