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Crime alert: Armed hold-up on University of Minnesota campus

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Police are seeking an armed robber who held up a University of Minnesota student on the Twin Cities campus late Friday night.

KSTP reported that the incident happened shortly before midnight on University Avenue, near the campus parking ramp just south of Williams Arena. The station reported that a woman was walking alone when the suspect rushed out of the bushes, threatened her with a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded her cellphone. The Pioneer Press reported that the victim, who had been celebrating her 21st birthday, handed over her iPhone. The suspect then ran in the direction of TCF Bank Stadium. The woman was not hurt.

A crime alert was sent to the student body on Sunday. In compliance with federal law, alerts are issued to students, faculty members and staff via email when a violent crime occurs on or near campus.

In February, the Minnesota Daily published an editorial seeking what it called "greater transparency" from the university administration. The editorial took issue with a Jan. 25 armed robbery of a student that occurred several blocks from campus. Because the incident wasn’t reported to police for five days, Vice President of University Services Pamela Wheelock said it no longer represented a “serious and ongoing threat,” which is required for issuing a campus crime alert. The student newspaper argued that the robbery warranted an alert despite the lapse in the reporting time.

During fall semester, the University issued the highest number of crime alerts on or near the university campus for any semester in the past six years. University police sent out 17 alerts for 23 separate incidents in the fall, compared to 10 alerts for 13 incidents in the same time period in the previous year. The alerts are issued to students, faculty members and staff via email when a violent crime occurs on or near campus, the Daily says. The alerts must be issued in compliance with federal law.

The legislature followed up with hearings on the crime spike in December. In February, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to reallocate $4.1 million to improve school safety.

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