Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Home invasion prompts warning to IUP students

by HEATHER ROTH on April 30, 2013 11:01 AM

Three men armed with handguns forced their way into a home in the 600 block of Wayne Avenue early Monday morning, assaulting one man and stealing $400, Indiana Borough police reported.

Police arrived at the home at 2:52 a.m., where they found a 21-year-old Indiana man bleeding from a cut on his head. A second resident and guest were also at the home, but they were not injured, according to police. All three are IUP students, according to police.

The injured man told police that three black men wearing hoodies forced open the front door, all three armed with handguns, and demanded money and drugs. He said he was hit in the head with a firearm, and that the men took $400 in cash and ran away. One of the men was described as being over 6 feet tall, while the other two were of average build, Indiana Borough police Det. John Scherf said.

The victim was treated at Indiana Regional Medical Center and released.

Scherf declined to identify the residents or the specific home.

“They’re scared enough as it is, they’re petrified,” he said.

On Monday afternoon Indiana University of Pennsylvania police sent out an email alert to students and staff, warning that an armed robbery had occurred at 642 Wayne Ave. and asking students to exercise caution.

IUP’s Sgt. Doug Campbell said police are required to alert students under the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires universities to alert their communities after any serious crime.

The email sent to students said that borough police are investigating a robbery, and warned them to keep doors and windows locked and not to open doors to strangers, as well as to report suspicious activity to police.

A second email sent this morning to other staff members took a lighter tone.

“With the rush and confusion of this hectic period, please take some time to consider your personal safety needs,” it said.

Megan Kiebler, the administrative assistant to IUP’s director of public safety, said word of the robbery had spread Monday and that IUP police had been receiving inquiries for students and parents.

“Wayne Avenue is just right around the block and most of the students live in the borough if they don’t live in the dorms,” she said. “Parents were calling very concerned, some of them were even asking if classes were cancelled because of this.”

She said the email was sent not to “get anyone worked up,” but rather to let them know what happened and to remind them to “remember proper safety, be aware of your surroundings.”

Scherf said this is the second home invasion robbery in the borough in as many months.

In March, two men entered an occupied home in the 700 block of Grant Street, one with a gun, and took an undisclosed amount of money and other items, Scherf said.

Later they and a third man were arrested near the Rite Aid in Indiana on drug charges; when police found a stolen cellphone in their vehicle, the phone’s owner told police that he and his roommates had been held at gunpoint and that marijuana and other items had been stolen.

Marijuana and a BB gun were found in a backpack the men abandoned, he said.

Charges in that case were filed against Shaquan Greene, 18, of Harrisburg; Samuel Miller, 18, of Bear, Del.; and Nafiz Brown, 19, of Punxsutawney, on March 6, and all three were released on $10,000 bail, according to court papers.

Scherf said the incidents are not believed to be connected.

He said police are following up on leads; anyone with information is asked to contact police at (724) 349-2121.

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