Robbery at Family Dollar causes alert from public safety
In the wake of a recent robbery in downtown Easton, students are calling for improved campus response in the event of an emergency.
On Jan. 8, a group of two armed robbers invaded the Family Dollar, just shy of a mile from Lafayette’s main campus on the hill. In response, the city of Easton, aided by a New Jersey State Police helicopter, searched for roughly three hours until the suspects were taken into custody, according to reports by The Morning Call.
Meanwhile, Lafayette College Public Safety signaled campus-wide alarms that officially locked down the campus.
According to President Byerly, public safety dispatched at least eight officers to aid the Easton Police Department in the search. All students were alerted of a lockdown via e-mail around 9:30 p.m. alluding to possible trouble near Feather House, the home of the Division of Communications located off Cattell Street.
Byerly said she was pleased with the immediate and efficient actions taken by public safety. Students, on the other hand, were not as impressed.
Many students found that the details of the email sent by public safety were left short and ambiguous.
“The school gave us really no information, and I had no idea [where] Feather House was,” said Emily Temkin ’19. “I was really confused.”
Yilin Wang ’19 said she was frustrated that the e-mail did not include details regarding the perpetrator’s weapons or specific locations to avoid.
The lack of clarity led to fear for some students.
“I was terrified,” said Temkin, who said she had just come back from dinner in the circle, near where the robbery took place. “I had never really experienced anything like this, so I didn’t know what to do.”
“I did not feel unsafe, but my friends were very scared,” Wang said. “After the helicopter came, things began to seem really serious.”
“There have been security threats before, but nothing [like this],” said Will Ritchings ‘16, who was watching a movie with friends when the incident unfolded. Ritchings found out about the lockdown through the campus-wide PA system.
Others, like Wang, were still unclear on the situation.
“I heard a really loud broadcast coming from March Field, but I could not hear it clearly,” said Wang. “I had no idea. I asked my friends, also on campus, and they said they didn’t hear anything.”
When she found out about the lockdown, Wang took it upon herself to relay the message to those in Keefe. “I had to tell them, ‘Don’t go out there, it’s a lockdown,’” Wang said.
After the event unfolded, Temkin thought that students’ families should have received an explanatory update for the sake of closure and comfort.
“Everyone has the right to know,” Temkin said.“I think parents should have gotten some sort of notification after it’s done, explaining what happened. What if they don’t hear from their kid? Parents should have known.”
Others believed that students themselves should have received a more nuanced explanation of what had happened.
“There was more information in the Lafayette crime log than there was in the e-mail itself,” Ritchings said. “It just said that the suspect has been apprehended and is in custody. That was it.”
Wang also voiced concern about the length of the chase itself.
“I think it shouldn’t have taken two hours to get him,” said Wang. “The whole thing sounds unbelievable. How could that happen?”
Public safety declined to comment.
Easton police have charged Jonny Sanders and Rachyeed Hollenbach in allegedly holding up and robbing the Family Dollar, according to The Morning Call from Jan. 11.