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Students tied up, robbed in off-campus home invasion

Residents said the armed men targeted one of their roommates, who was hit in the back of the head with a pistol.

Police are investigating the home invasion and armed robbery of six students on the 1900 block of 18th Street that occurred on Sunday around 7:30 p.m.

Philadelphia and Temple police said two men followed a 20-year-old student into his home and bound him and his roommates – four 18-year-old females, one 19-year-old female and one 19-year-old male, all Temple students – with zip ties and held them at gunpoint.

The suspects, described by police as two men – one about 6 feet tall who wore a brown Bucks County Community College sweatshirt – demanded for a student to open and hand over the contents of a lock box. They then “pistol-whipped” that student in the head. That student sustained a mild head injury and was treated at Hahnemann University Hospital for minor cuts and bruises, police said. To his roommates’ knowledge, he was still infirmed as of 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

Tenants of the house who were not victims of the robbery said the suspects, who were wearing bandanas and hooded sweatshirts to cover their faces, escaped with around $100 in cash and a few thousand dollars worth of personal property – mostly electronics, including laptops and two video game consoles. The suspects took wallets and cell phones from all the victims, the tenants said.

A TU Alert was sent out about the incident on Sunday around 9 p.m, describing the suspects and urging anyone with information to contact 911.

Two of the other victims stayed elsewhere on Monday, said Billy Denham, a junior film and media arts major and resident at the robbed property who was not present during the incident.

Denham said he returned from work after seeing the alert to find several police cars outside of his house.

“I was relieved to see there wasn’t any blood or damage to the house, but people’s stuff was taken,” Denham said.

“I feel like my house is marked,” Denham later added. “That would completely suck if they tried to rob us again.”

Paul Krueger, an undeclared sophomore who lives in the house, didn’t know it was robbed until he received a text asking if he was OK.

Krueger said he was in his bedroom wearing headphones while playing the online strategy game League of Legends and talking to friends on Skype. He said he looked out his window and saw the emergency vehicles before a police officer entered the residence and informed him of the situation.

“Everything’s a little stirred up now,” Krueger said. “It’s kind of an uneasy feeling.”

Jordan Sivick, a sophomore public health major and resident of the house, said he will commute from his home outside of Philadelphia for at least the next week. He was in his hometown Sunday night and was preparing for a job interview on Monday when he received the TU Alert.

“It’s very unsettling,” Sivick said. “All sense of security is gone. It’s just not pleasant.”

“It was just a very stressful night,” he added. “I was very worried about the health of my housemates.”

Sivick, Denham and Krueger all said they believed the hospitalized roommate was targeted. They did not reveal his full name.

“It seemed like [the suspects] knew what they were coming for,” Denham said. “They knew where [his] room was.”

Sivick agreed.

“It seems way too specific,” he said. “It’s like it was a planned attack.”

Undeclared sophomore Paul Krueger stands outside his home on 18th Street. He said he was not aware of the robbery until police arrived. Andrew Thayer | TTN

Undeclared sophomore Paul Krueger stands outside his home on 18th Street. He said he was not aware of the robbery until police arrived. Andrew Thayer | TTN

Temple Police said it was unlikely the invasion was a random incident.

The landlord for the property, Eric Greene of Newport Property Group, declined to comment specifically on whether or not the hospitalized student knew the suspects.

“Some attraction was brought to this place by people in the neighborhood,” Greene said. He added that a resident “may” have let non-tenants into the house whose motives he considered questionable, but he would not confirm it.

“People look around, they see stuff they want,” Greene said. “Don’t let strangers into your home. That’s how stuff like this happens.”

David Feinman, a senior entrepreneurship major who lives two doors down from the property, said he would not let Monday’s incident or other crime around Main Campus change his behavior in his second year at Temple.

“I try not to be afraid of it, but just know the threat’s there,” said Feinman, who lived in Morgan Hall last year.

In March 2013, a similar incident took place one block south of Sunday’s robbery. The Temple News reported that two armed men tied four female students’ wrists with duct tape and threatened them before searching their home and taking some of their property.

The most recent robbery comes about a month and a half after Temple Police extended its patrol zone farther off Main Campus. The robbery occurred in the newly-covered zone.

The new patrol zone is bound by 18th Street to the west, Susquehanna Avenue to the north, Ninth Street to the east and Jefferson Street to the south.

Kyle McCloskey, a sophomore kinesiology major who lives next door to the robbed property, noticed the lights from the police cars shining through his window. He said he saw a student, who he believed to be injured, being helped down the stairs by emergency responders.

“It’s definitely concerning,” McCloskey said.

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@temple.edu and on twitter @JBrandt_TU

Patricia Madej and Patrick McCarthy contributed reporting.

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