Georgia State University is temporarily shutting down public access to the library that has been the site of four robberies while new security measures are put in place.
Since December, several students in the library have been robbed at gunpoint of laptops, backpacks and cell phones, including two robberies Thursday morning.
“I am deeply concerned about the recent string of robberies in the university’s library, and I am taking immediate action to vigorously address security issues. The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff is our first priority,” Georgia State president Mark Becker said Thursday.
Thursday’s robberies occurred before 8 a.m., when the library is closed to visitors and restricted to Georgia State faculty, staff and students who must use their school identification to enter the building.
Officials have not discussed installing metal detectors at library entrances, but plan to install more security cameras at the library and post uniformed officers at all library entrances and exits to check university IDs.
“We will take aggressive action and put all of our enforcement resources to bear in finding the perpetrator of these crimes,” Becker said.
Deputy Chief Carlton Mullis said the university is looking into why robberies keep happening in the library.
“Armed robberies are very rare at Georgia State and certainly inside the buildings,” he said.
One factor at play may be the isolated study areas of the library, which may allow robbers to remain hidden, Mullis said.
Right now, students are fearful, said Sebastian Parra, Georgia State’s student government association president.
“The libraries are a congregation point for students. It’s where everybody goes,” he said.
Parra and the SGA executive board plan to meet with campus police next week and will host a student body meeting next Thursday. Campus safety will be on the agenda.
“We’re not going to let a few criminals brand the entire student body. (Campus officials) do all they can to keep students safe, but we are an urban school in Atlanta, crime happens.”
Library robberies started Dec. 15, when a student was robbed at gunpoint of his cellphone and laptop. The next day, GSU police arrested 38-year-old Daniel Duplessy, who remains in custody at the Fulton County Jail. But his arrest didn’t halt campus robberies.
The next robbery was reported Jan. 12, followed by another Jan. 14.
The suspect in Thursday’s robberies was wearing black Adidas shorts, a black top and a grey beanie, according to campus police.
Mullis said he thinks they are all related.
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