College Surveillance Cameras Foil Roving Gang

Security cameras near Franklin & Marshall College apparently helped to nab four suspects allegedly involved in three incidents Thursday night, according to the college.

One F&M student was robbed, and two others were harassed, college President John Fry said today. None of the victims suffered injury, he said.

"The cameras are really working," he said. He said F&M video helped identify the boys after they were taken into custody.

The incidents occurred along or near James Street and College and Harrisburg avenues, Fry said.

Apparently, four roving teenage boys were harassing F&M students, he said.

City police today said the incidents occurred between 6:50 and 7:10 p.m. and that only one arrest has been made.

However, Fry said an officer Gerhart told F&M that city police had three others in custody.

A 14-year-old faces robbery and related charges, according to Lt. Brian Wiczkowski.

Police gave no other information about the incidents by press time.

But Fry gave this account of what happened:

A group of four 13- to 15-year-old boys "made smart and insulting remarks" to a female Franklin & Marshall student as she was crossing James Street from campus, he said.

She ignored them and kept walking and they did not pursue her, Fry said.

Shortly afterward, the group of boys came upon a male F&M student, on campus behind Mayser Physical Education Center, near the track.

One of the boys "punched him in the back of the head," Fry said, and one of the boys said, "Give us everything you have out of your pockets."

At that time, an F&M public safety officer arrived and the boys ran from the scene, toward College Avenue, Fry said.

They continued running down James and Nevin streets and at one point tried to trip another male F&M student, Fry said. They also made "vulgar, insulting, derogative remarks" toward the student, he said.

F&M public safety officers pursued the boys along Pine and New streets to Mary Street, where one officer exited his patrol car and followed them on foot, Fry said.

In the 200 block of Lancaster Avenue, the 14-year-old boy was detained and questioned by F&M officers, Fry said.

The boy said he was with three others but did not name them, Fry said.

City police arrived and took the boy into custody, according to Fry.

At close to midnight, city police requested video footage from two of the college's cameras.

Fry praised his public safety officers and other recently enhanced security measures adopted at F&M, as well as city police.

"We have a really good network working together," he said, adding that the message to potential criminals is simple:

"Come into our neighborhood and campus at your own risk," Fry said. "We will find you and nail you."

He said more than $1 million is being spent from September through next June on security upgrades.

Measures include dramatically increasing the number of officers through the support of the college and the James Street Improvement District; trimming trees; increasing lighting; and adding emergency phones and a shuttle system for students.

The measures were pursued after F&M junior Peter "P.J." Pitsiokos was shot Sept. 8 during an armed robbery as he walked in the 600 block of North Pine Street.

Later that month, Franklin & Marshall College upped the reward for a suspect in the case to $25,000, and unveiled a safety plan designed to improve security on campus and in the surrounding area.

The shooter still has not been arrested, Fry said.