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armed robberies raise
Columbus--A handful of violent attacks at the end of May brought a warning to be cautious in the Short North and the area south of Ohio State University.
There were five confirmed armed robberies between May 18 and 29 in the area surrounding High Street between Goodale Street and Fourth Ave., all between 10 pm and 3 am.
In two of the attacks, women were sexually assaulted in addition to being robbed. In all five cases, the assailant had a gun, and descriptions lead police to believe that it is a single perpetrator.
He is described as a black man, medium build, between 5’ 5” and 5’ 11.” In more than one incident, he was wearing a tan jacket, similar to a Carhartt jacket, a brown knit hat and tan slacks. Two of the people he attacked said that he wore a ski mask or nylon stocking over his face.
There may have been other attacks as well.
“The police have not updated their initial alert,” said Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization executive director Gloria McCauley. “We have actually gotten a call about a possible related robbery and assault, but we have not been able to confirm that yet.”
One of the factors McCauley finds most frustrating about this string of attacks is that one of the prime pieces of safety advice--do not walk alone--has not deterred the assailant.
“Walking with someone else doesn’t really seem to be stopping this guy because one the attacks was against two women,” she said.
Just because that bit of advice is not valid in this case, however, does not mean that people should just hide in their homes and stop going out.
McCauley believes that other techniques can help keep people safe.
“Use caution. The problem when we have spring and summer evenings, people feel a lot more confident about walking in the warm weather,” she said. “All of these attacks happened close to High Street, which is relatively well-lit and safe.”
“He’s targeting people who may not be as aware of their surroundings as they could be,” she continued. “Parking a vehicle close to where you’re going, be aware of the surroundings on the street. It’s really okay to cross the street if something doesn’t feel right when someone’s approaching you.”
While common courtesy would usually dictate being quiet when walking on the street at night, in the case of an assault, doing the exact opposite could save a life.
“In one of the reports, the woman was able to escape by yelling and making a lot of noise,” McCauley noted. “As we always tell folks, thugs don’t like a lot of attention.”
“Carry a whistle--you can get one from us! Take a self-defense course,” she concluded. “Doing that will give participants a whole wealth of plans of action.”
Anyone who has been a victim of similar assaults, or who has any information about the assailant, is encouraged to call the Columbus police at 614-6454703, Crime Stoppers at 614-6458477 (TIPS), or BRAVO at 614-2947867 (STOP).