Recent spike in armed robberies alarms students

Claire Henry and Martha Sanchez

carjackings, tupd
A recent surge in crime around campus has startled students and raised new questions about safety in nearby neighborhoods.

Tulane University Police Department responded to an armed robbery report on Lowerline Street last Friday, raising new questions about off-campus safety after two armed robberies and a carjacking startled students and Uptown residents last month. 

On Friday, a student told police an unknown male approached them around 1:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Lowerline Street, brandished a firearm and demanded the student’s property. 

The student said they complied, but the subject used the firearm to strike them in the head and fled on foot. 

TUPD and New Orleans Police Department were unable to locate the suspect in the area. 

The report follows two similar cases of armed robbery and one carjacking — all as students returned to campus in January. On Jan. 13, a student was carjacked on Birch and Broadway Streets. On Jan. 15, students reported two separate armed robberies on Hillary Street. NOPD arrested two juvenile suspects believed to be responsible for these robberies last week.

The four cases near the start of the semester rattled students returning to off-campus homes. 

“It’s scary,” Matthew Rosen, a junior whose friends were the victim of an armed robbery, said. “It’s dangerous to walk at night.”

“This can happen to anyone and can happen anywhere,” a Tulane student said. They were a victim of the Hillary Street robbery and asked to remain anonymous.

TUPD Chief Kirk Bouyelas said the department is still using increased patrols in off-campus neighborhoods and is taking proactive steps to keep students safe. That includes high-visibility deployments, follow-up investigations and collaboration with NOPD. Bouyelas also said Tulane has invested in crime cameras that connect to the Real Time Crime Center, a New Orleans service that helps officers quickly analyze video footage of crimes. 

Off-campus students said they hope to see more patrols on side streets. 

“We never really see TUPD drive by our house,” Rosen, who lives off Broadway, said. “I feel like there are only patrols right near campus on Broadway and Freret,” the victim of the Hillary robbery said. “With so many students living on inward streets, it would be nice to have more patrols in those areas.”

Tulane senior Aidan Russell lives near Broadway and Birch Streets and overheard the Jan. 13 carjacking. He said TUPD responded quickly, but he was put on hold when he called 911. Rosen said his friends were also put on hold when they called 911 after being robbed. Russell advised students to save TUPD’s direct number in case of emergency, especially with the unreliability of 911.

Bouyelas said the Hillary Street robberies and Birch Street carjacking were connected, but no evidence links those cases to the Lowerline Street incident. 

The student robbed in the 1100 block of Hillary Street said the robbery has forced her to think more about safety around campus. “I generally am more aware and alert when walking around, especially at night,” she said. “I will never walk around alone at night, and when I go out, I ensure that I am in a big group of people.” 

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