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Student held at gunpoint in off-campus home

Student held at gunpoint in off-campus home

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Student safety continues to be in question at Hofstra, and after a home invasion left senior journalism major Jamie Rollo face-to-face with an armed robber on Monday, Sept. 3, many students feel as though their lives may be in danger in their own homes.

At around 11:30 p.m. Monday evening, a man entered the home of five Hofstra students on Fairview Boulevard. He confronted Rollo and her boyfriend with a gun, pointing it at her head and demanding money and jewelry.

“He pointed it at us originally and said, ‘This is what is happening: You’re going to give me everything,” Rollo said. “He told me to shut up, stop screaming. ‘I need all your money. I know you have it,’” Rollo told CBS News.

After denying having money the man took her MacBook and a GoPro camera.

He instructed Rollo and her boyfriend to lay down on their stomachs and then left.

The suspect was described to police as a black man in his 30s who had been wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweatpants with an American flag bandana covering part of his face.

Hofstra students received a text alert from the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 1:51 a.m. that read, “HU Public Safety was notified of a home invasion which occurred on Fairview Blvd. Hempstead. Police are investigating.”

Public Safety also sent out an email to students on Monday, Sept. 10 with safety tips and information on what to do in the case of an emergency.

In May of 2013, a 21-year-old Hofstra student was killed in a home invasion that occurred just a few blocks away from the university. Andrea Rebello studied public relations at Hofstra, and her tragic death shook the community five years ago. The incident garnered significant public attention, even making its way to The New York Times.

Another armed intruder entered the home of Hofstra students on Lawrence Street, directly behind the Netherlands residential complex in May of 2016, where a student was pistol-whipped and hospitalized.

While incidents such as these have historically sparked dialogue about the role Public Safety plays off campus, Director of Public Safety Karen O’Callaghan said the bottom line is that Public Safety has no jurisdiction off campus.

“Students choose to rent off campus. That’s their choice. We would prefer that every student live on campus, but we understand that some choose to live off campus and we work with law enforcement,” O’Callaghan said. “I had members of my team who were at the house [speak] with the students that were victims. The University has offered them every resource that they possible can which includes counseling services, emergency housing on campus and the students, some of them chose to do that. We’ve worked with the parents. So anything we can do to support that student we’re doing.”

Nassau County Police Detective Michael Bitsko said that the burglary is an ongoing investigation and all leads are being followed through. “We are requesting anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All caller[s] will remain anonymous,” Bitsko said.

Senior women’s studies major Kat Smith said when they heard about the incident, it startled them. Having lived off campus for a few years, Smith said it can be undoubtedly dangerous. “It freaked me out because that really easily could have been a situation that happened to us. I think it’s really terrifying in general when that happens,” Smith said. “In my house I would always make sure the doors were locked anywhere at night, I would usually carry pepper spray. Not specifically for safety, but we had a crowbar by our door, but if I heard a noise in the house I would always grab before I would investigate.”

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