Incidents near and on Wright State campus could be connected

WSU police, county sheriff’s office investigating Thursday incidents

Two crimes committed within hours of each other Thursday may be related, and Wright State University police chief David Finnie said his department wants to work with the Greene County Sheriff’s office to investigate.

“I know we’re going to contact Greene County to see about the Province apartments incident,” Finnie said. “We’re going to try to coordinate our efforts.”

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Following an afternoon incident at Province apartments near Wright State, a man stole a phone from someone on campus, near Allyn Hall, at about 9:19 p.m., according to an email notification from Wright State to students.

A man approached the victim near the Creative Arts Center and asked if he could use the victim’s cell phone. As the man used the phone, they walked together toward Allyn Hall, where the man struck the victim in the chest and ran away with the cell phone, according to the email.

The victim said the man suspected in the robbery was African-American and around 5 feet, 10 inches tall. He had an earring in each ear and was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved blue shirt, the victim reported.

The email advisory sent to students told them to “never resist giving up your property” during a robbery. Robberies are uncommon on Wright State’s campus — four were reported in 2015, three in 2014 and two in 2013, according to the university.

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The robbery followed an incident Thursday afternoon where a man tried to steal a cellphone at Province apartments in the 3700 block of Kettering Court.

A man at the apartment building was trying to sell a mobile phone when a supposed buyer tried to steal it. The seller fired a shot into the ground, which prompted a 911 call.

Nobody was injured. The robber fled the scene and had not been located as of Friday afternoon, officials said.

It’s not unusual for the sheriff’s office to work with other law enforcement on cases such as these, said Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer. The investigation into both incidents is still open, officials said.

The incidents come as the Ohio General Assembly recently passed House Bill 48, which would allow a university’s board of trustees to permit people to carry concealed weapons on campus. Wright State officials said they expect Gov. John Kasich to sign the bill into law.

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Wright State’s faculty senate passed a resolution against concealed carry on campus in a 31-1 vote on Dec. 12. Faculty president Carol Loranger said allowing firearms on campus would negatively impact students, but she was careful to say the faculty senate’s resolution did not “indicate any feelings of the faculty about the Second Amendment.”

“This resolution rises from faculty’s concern about their workplace safety, staff’s workplace safety and student safety,” Loranger said.

Wright State president David Hopkins said he and other officials are worried about “there being some confusion” with House Bill 48. Hopkins said the university will be adding signage to campus to better inform students that guns are not permitted at WSU, even if Kasich signs House Bill 48.

“That prohibition will still be in effect,” Hopkins said. “It’s important to remind people there is no change.”

Hopkins said he and trustees have been briefed on House Bill 48 by Finnie, who opposes allowing guns on college campuses. Finnie said his opposition is backed by all of Ohio’s 14 public universities.

“Allowing firearms on campus is a dangerous idea,” Finnie said. “It would not make the campus safer.”

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