Kindness to strangers backfired for three University students early Sunday morning.
Three male students walking on the 300 block of East Jefferson Street at 12:30 a.m. stopped to give directions to Hamilton Place to a group of men, all of whom had their faces concealed by hoods or bandanas. A few moments later, the students found themselves face down on the ground and $40 poorer, Ann Arbor police said.
Police said one of the men pulled a gun on the students and demanded their money.
Detective Chris Fitzpatrick of the Ann Arbor Police Department said that while two of the students had money to give the robbers, one turned over a wallet with $40 in it.
He said the four men forced the three students to lie on the ground while they fled. Once the robbers took off, one of the students called police, who quickly apprehended two of the suspects nearby. Two others were arrested later Sunday in Ypsilanti and Romulus. Fitzpatrick said three of the suspects are 18 years old. The other is 17.
Fitzpatrick said officers found a loaded handgun that they believe was used in the robbery in a bush outside Bethlehem Church on South Fourth Avenue.
Kinsey said the suspects’ hometowns – Romulus and Ypsilanti – were unusual.
“We don’t usually have a lot of out-of-towners coming in and doing this stuff,” he said.
Sunday’s robbery is the fourth robbery on the streets near campus this semester. None of the three other incidents were similar to the one on Sunday, according to AAPD Sgt. Charlotte DeMateo.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said DPS hasn’t had reports of armed robbery on campus since March.
While attacks like the one on Sunday have been rare in recent months, Kinsey said the circumstances of the robbery – on a side street, late at night – were typical of such crimes.
He advised students to travel in cars as much as possible late at night and to carry a cell phone.
Fitzpatrick said he believe the four men who were arrested were the only ones involved in the robbery.
Because the four suspects were caught immediately, Kinsey said he’s hopeful that the campus area won’t see a rash of street robberies.
“Hopefully we nixed this trend right away,” he said. “We caught them before they got started doing this a lot, so that’s a good thing.”
Kinsey said the students did the right thing by giving the men their cash.
“Don’t try and be a hero when somebody has got a gun,” he said.
The four suspects – one Ypsilanti resident and three Romulus residents – will be arraigned today in Washtenaw County Court.