UMES Students Question Security Following Off-Campus Armed Robbe - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UMES Students Question Security Following Off-Campus Armed Robbery

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Billboard stands on UMES Boulevard in Princess Anne advertising student housing off campus. (Photo: WBOC) Billboard stands on UMES Boulevard in Princess Anne advertising student housing off campus. (Photo: WBOC)

PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- Some University of Maryland Eastern Shore students are on edge after an armed robbery occurred at an off-campus housing complex last week.

Universities were once thought to be safe but with another recent mass shooting that killed nine at an Oregon community college, some students say they're not so sure.  One of those students is UMES undergrad Anasia Wharton, who was one of the victims of the Talons Square South armed robbery.

"I mean, you're here to get your education and you have to worry about whether you're safe or not," said Anasia Wharton.

Wharton said she, her friend Cheyenne Shongo, Wharton's roommate and several guests were robbed at gunpoint by five men on Friday Oct. 3 inside her off-campus apartment less than a mile from UMES.

Wharton said she was in her room fast asleep with the door closed, unaware of what had taken place when she awoke after the robbery had occurred.

But Shongo said she was in the bathroom when the men came into the living room. Shongo said she remained in there hiding in the bathtub behind the shower curtain until the ordeal was over. She recalls hearing the robbers' demands.

"They took everything from the people that were in the living room. They took cellphones, Macbooks, shoes, cash, wallets, watches, house keys. It was ridiculous," said Shongo still shaken up about the crime. 

WBOC asked UMES Wednesday if the campus security Hawk Alerts or notification emails were sent to students following the robbery.

UMES spokesperson Bill Robinson issued this statement on behalf of the university:

"The Princess Anne Police Department was the lead law enforcement agency investigating the Saturday, Oct. 3 incident at Talon’s Square South.  PAPD cannot independently activate an electronic alert to notify UMES students about a potentially dangerous situation.

By the time details of the incident at Talon’s Square came to the attention of UMES police commanders, it was unnecessary to activate the Hawk Alert system.

Hawk Alerts are one tool the university uses to keep the campus informed and safe. Campus police are trained to use it in the most effective and judicious ways possible after carefully analyzing circumstances of each situation that arises.

UMES and Salisbury University cancelled afternoon classes Friday (Oct. 2) so students who wanted to leave the Eastern Shore could do so ahead of weekend storm predictions.  Of course, there is no way of knowing how many students at both schools remained in their respective communities."

Wharton and Shongo say without a front gate that locks or obvious signs of police presence at Talons Square or other off-campus housing, it's much easier for anyone who doesn't belong to waltz right inside.

Wharton says she lived on campus as a freshman where security was always tight. But at Talons Square just down the street from the main campus, Wharton said it's as if you're on your own.

"I feel like the further you are from campus you should have more locks on your door. The majority that live here [Talons Square] are UMES students, so it kind of bothers me that they don't get the same as the other UMES students," said Wharton.

With that in mind, Wharton said she'll be sleeping with one eye open.

The armed robbery remains under investigation, and anyone with information is urged to contact the Princess Anne Police Department at (410) 651-5452.

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