Metra Station Where Students Robbed Has Long Been Campus Concern

Three Chicago State University students ordered to the floor of Metra station at 95th and Cottage Grove by gun-wielding robbers

By Jeff Goldblatt and BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Jan 27, 2012  |  Updated 11:00 PM CDT
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Three Chicago State University (CSU) students were the victims of an armed robbery Thursday at a Metra train station on the northeast edge of campus.  Two men stormed into the Metra station at the corner of East 95th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue at about 1:30 p.m., flashing guns, ordering the students to the floor, and then robbing them.  South Side Alderman, Roderick Sawyer (6th), called the unsafe station

Three Chicago State University (CSU) students were the victims of an armed robbery Thursday at a Metra train station on the northeast edge of campus. Two men stormed into the Metra station at the corner of East 95th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue at about 1:30 p.m., flashing guns, ordering the students to the floor, and then robbing them. South Side Alderman, Roderick Sawyer (6th), called the unsafe station "an embarrassment."

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The police chief of Chicago State University said Friday he's had ongoing safety concerns about a marginally-lit Metra train station at the northeast edge of the campus.

"I dont want to get into a pissing match with Metra. This is about keeping our students safe," said Chief Ronnie Watson. "Look at it. Have you ever seen another Metra station [that] looks like that?"

The station, at East 95th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, is little more than a large shack. There's no attendant, and the only connections to the world around it are a single security camera and a telephone. Metra said security personnel monitors the station 24 hours a day.

But that did nothing to stop two men from walking in, flashing guns and ordering three CSU students to the floor during a daytime robbery on Jan. 19.

"That is scary for our students because our students travel this way all the time. So if at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, if this is what we can expect, that's serious. We could have had a real tragedy here," said Watson.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) echoed Watson's sentiments.

"We should not have to live like this. This is a thriving community. For us to have Metra stations like this, it's an embarrassment," he said, adding that he wouldn't let his own daughter use the station.

Surveillance video from the incident is being reviewed by authorities. Police released two still images Friday, and both Chicago police and CSU police issued community alerts.

Metra said it has stepped up patrols.

"We've increased our drive-by patrols and both our uniformed and undercover police presence at this station," said Robert Carlton, Metra's chief communications and marketing officer.

Carlton said the transit agency doesn't believe there's a "systemic security issue" at the station, but said crime data would be reviewed.

Both of the robbers were described similarly by police: black men between the ages of 18 and 25 who stand between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weigh between 155 and 165 pounds.

One of the attackers was wearing a black puffy winter vest with a light brown sweat shirt and a light brown baseball cap, a community alert said. The other man was wearing beige pants and a black hooded jacket.

Anyone with information on the crime should contact police at 312-747-8273 or area2tip@chicagopolice.org.

A community and campus meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 25.

"We"re going to have meetings about this. We're going to make this an issue because we cannot continue to live like this," said Sawyer.

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