Victims share their story of being mugged on campus in the early hours of Sept. 23.
Three Students Robbed at Gunpoint Outside Marquette Hall
Three Loyola students were having a conversation outside Marquette Hall around 3:40 a.m. Sept. 23 when four offenders exited a vehicle, displayed an assault rifle and demanded the students hand over their belongings.
Third-year Matthew McKenna was on his way to Madonna della Strada Chapel when he ran into his two friends outside of the dorm at 6255 N. Kenmore Ave. Second-year Mark Gomez had just dropped off his girlfriend in her dorm while M, the third student who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, had just come back from a date night with his girlfriend.
During their conversation, McKenna said a gray, four-door sedan swerved to a stop as four robbers stormed out in ski masks.
“Before I even knew what was happening, they’re pointing the assault rifle at me and telling me to give them my belongings,” McKenna said.
Gomez said he saw the robbers had the gun pointed to McKenna’s chest and knew he was next. A Chicago police officer told Gomez the gun was likely an AR-15. In an effort to stay safe, Gomez said he decided there was nothing else they could do but comply.
“He aimed the gun at my head until I gave him all the stuff,” Gomez said. “Then they quickly got back in the car and drove off.”
Gomez and McKenna were forced to give up their phones, passwords, IDs and credit cards. They also took McKenna’s Bible and rosary, which he said was “weird.”
The robbery lasted around 30 seconds, according to McKenna. The three victims got out of the situation safe and no gunshots were fired.
Gomez and McKenna said they were in a state of shock and driven by adrenaline throughout the entire encounter.
“I was just focused on giving them my stuff,” McKenna said. “After they drove off, I started laughing because it was just crazy.”
M, who was with them when the car initially pulled to a stop, was able to assess the situation before the gun was revealed and ran from the scene, finding a safe place to notify the authorities to help McKenna and Gomez who were left with the attackers.
“My body reacted quicker than my mind, and I started running,” M said.
M said he ran the 700 feet up West Rosemont Avenue to the Shoreline Towers Condominium on North Sheridan Road and informed the security guard of the incident. M then called his resident assistant requesting he check up on Gomez and McKenna.
After they were able to process what occurred, Gomez pressed a nearby emergency button to alert authorities before walking into the lobby of Marquette South to call the police from the front desk.
M was transported back to Marquette by Campus Safety to meet up with McKenna and Gomez.
The Chicago Police Department and Campus Safety were there to help them within five minutes, McKenna said. He said the police took their general information and asked questions about the incident but informed them there isn’t much they can do.
McKenna said police told him nearby security cameras recorded the crime and captured the car’s license plate. But the information isn’t helpful when trying to catch these perpetrators because the car was likely stolen.
Gomez said the CPD put a lot of care into their well-being upon arriving at the scene.
“We definitely felt that they were very concerned with us, first and foremost,” Gomez said. “They’ve reached out and did a wellness check on us the next day.”
McKenna and Gomez said they have received no updates on any investigation happening regarding the crime.
The Chicago Police Department declined a request for comment by The Phoenix.
Loyola’s Campus Safety sent out a crime alert over email detailing the armed robbery and urging students to be aware of their surroundings.
Armed robberies targeting college students are on the rise across Chicago at multiple universities like Loyola, DePaul University and University of Illinois Chicago, according to NBC Chicago News.
McKenna and Gomez said they advise all students on campus to be careful walking around late at night. McKenna said to never linger on any sidewalks as it made them more of a target.
M said students should always stick with a group of people especially late at night and, if possible, try and return home earlier in the evening to avoid crimes like these.
“Always keep your head on a swivel,” M said.
M said he has felt mentally exhausted since the event occurred and has tried to take the time to properly deal with and accept the circumstances.
“It was Monday when it started hitting me,” M said. “My head really started hurting and I felt very mentally fatigued.”
McKenna said he has been “OK” since the incident occurred and has learned he must move quickly from place to place when he is out late at night. He was able to pause his credit cards and purchase a new phone.
“In terms of the event itself, it wasn’t that bad, I guess,” McKenna said.
Gomez said he now has some hesitation before going out, even if he is just studying at the Information Commons or eating late at night in the dining halls. He was able to lock his iPhone when calling Apple support but is still waiting for a new Ventra pass.
“I wasn’t really surprised that it happened,” Gomez said. “I definitely don’t want to go out as much. Even just coming back to my dorm late at night is concerning now.”
If a student is threatened, Campus Safety wrote in their crime alert they should follow any demands and run away as soon as it is safe to do so. When no longer in danger, Campus Safety can be contacted at 773-508-7233.
Featured image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix