Witte-JS

JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo

Another violent attack struck the University of Wisconsin campus late Tuesday night when two female students were reportedly robbed in Witte Hall by a middle-aged man.

At approximately 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, the male suspect entered the dorm room of the two students, grabbed one by the neck and demanded money and valuables, UW Police Department Sergeant Michael Newton said.

The suspect then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money, Newton said, adding that no injuries resulted from the incident.

"Both of [the students] are fine at this time," Newton said. "Hopefully they're both going to class and trying to go about their normal routine."

The suspect is still at large, Newton added, describing him as a 5'6" to 5'8", 160 lb. white man, approximately 40 years old, with a "scruffy" moustache and beard, short brown hair and possibly a gold tooth.

He was last seen wearing a dark blue or black jacket, jeans and dark boots.

Newton said police are still investigating how the suspect entered Witte Hall, a public dormitory equipped with 24-hour locks on all exterior doors, stairwells and elevators.

The building also has security cameras monitoring the first floor entrances and electronic devices that alarm housing staff when exterior doors are propped open.

"Facility wise, there's nothing more we can really do," University Housing Director Paul Evans said. "At this point, our efforts are really more educational, … sending students reminders not to let strangers in the building, report suspicious people right away to police or staff and to lock their doors."

Following a fall semester that witnessed a sharp increase in violent crime in downtown Madison, Tuesday night's robbery is the second campus-area attack of 2007.

The first attack occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 28, when the MPD responded to a robbery of an 18-year-old man on the 100 block of Langdon Street. The man was reportedly visiting his sister, a UW student, and was considering attending the university himself next fall.

In response to the rash of campus-area crime, Interim Dean of Students Lori Berquam said the university would hold a safety summit Feb. 27, leaving open the possibility of increasing police presence on campus.

According to Berquam, the summit — coordinated by Associate Dean of Students Elton Crim — would bring together UW students and administrators, police and "Madison community partners" to "holistically" address campus safety.

"We know the Madison police have increased their patrols and have a safety plan they're going to enact," Berquam said. "We need to do the same."

Berquam, Evans and Newton also reminded students to always keep in mind their personal safety and take appropriate measures to protect themselves.

"The sad fact is that we're becoming a big city, and we need to think like we're in a bigger city," Berquam said. "Right now, what students might do in Chicago is different from what they do here in Wisconsin. We need to challenge that way of thinking."

The UWPD requested anyone with information regarding Tuesday's robbery to contact the department at (608) 264-2677 or Madison Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014.