Chicago Police

U of C Employee Robbed at Gunpoint Days After Grad's Fatal Shooting

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A University of Chicago employee was robbed on campus early Thursday morning, the school said in a security alert, marking the third violent incident to shake the campus this week after a deadly robbery of a recent graduate took place just blocks away and gunfire was reported nearby.

The contract employee for the university was walking around 5:30 a.m. on a sidewalk at 1313 E. 60th Street when authorities say two people exited a small black SUV and one displayed a handgun.

The pair demanded the employee's property and the employee handed them a cell phone before they went back to their vehicle and drove away.

The employee was not hurt in the incident and university police are investigating, the alert stated.

"Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times," the alert read. "Do not resist an armed robbery unless absolutely necessary. Avoid using cell phones or other electronic devices while on the street. When walking, try to walk with a group or have a friend walk with you. There is safety in numbers."

The robbery comes just after the University of Chicago's president and provost sent a letter to students pledging increased safety measures after a recent graduate of the school was gunned down just off campus.

"This is a deeply painful day for our community and our city," the letter from President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee read Tuesday.

The university's leadership said they have been in contact with the Chicago Police Department as well as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city leaders, whom they had safety discussions with Wednesday.

"The city is formalizing, with the university’s involvement, a number of short and longer-term public safety strategies specifically for the Hyde Park and surrounding communities," the letter read. "More will be communicated soon."

Hyde Park, the community anchored by the university, has been shaken to its core after the series of violent acts on Tuesday. A 24-year-old graduate of the school was shot and killed during an attempted robbery as he walked just blocks from the campus.

The victim, identified as Shaoxiong Zheng, was shot once in the chest, and was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Rep. Bobby Rush came to the neighborhood after the shooting, saying that his heart was with the victim and that he is pushing in Congress for a stronger response to gun violence.

A Chicago man was shot and killed during an attempted robbery on Tuesday in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and NBC 5’s Alex Maragos has the latest details.

“We have to treat violence in Chicago the same way we are treating the pandemic of the coronavirus,” he said.

Rush’s opponent in the 2022 Democratic primary, community activist Jahmal Cole, was apparently shot at near the intersection of 53rd Street and Harper, less than a mile away from where the fatal shooting took place.

Cole, in an Instagram post, said he had to dive for cover, and suffered a wound to his neck during the incident.

“I dove underneath the car. I ran for my life, like everybody on the street,” he said.

No one was hit in the shooting, but multiple vehicles were damaged and two businesses were hit, according to Chicago police. Cole does not believe he was targeted in the shooting, which remains under investigation.

"Our city struggles with many of the same issues of violence that afflict all large cities in the U.S.," the university's leaders wrote. "Unless we can meet that challenge together, our communities will not truly feel safe. The University and the Hyde Park community make up one of this City’s great neighborhoods, and we are fully committed to doing more as a University and as an anchor institution on the South Side. This includes developing comprehensive efforts to reduce violence, and supporting Chicago’s communities in securing a safer future."

No arrests have been made in connection with any of the incidents.

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