Campus Car Theft Investigation Still Ongoing
by: Melissa Gonzalez, firstname.lastname@example.org
MSUM students living off campus saw the police confrontation related to a campus car theft first hand.
The Moorhead Police Department is still investigating the theft that happened on Tuesday evening, Jan. 15.
According to the police news release on the city of Moorhead’s website, at 7:36 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to a call from Snarr Hall to make a stolen vehicle report for someone who was visiting a student on campus. As the report was being made, another officer found the stolen vehicle in the 1000 block of 18 ½ Street South.
Although the car has been located, the suspect and the gun he found in the vehicle have not been found.
The suspect is a white male, last seen wearing a black jacket and blue hooded sweatshirt.
Madison Krupke, an MSUM sophomore majoring in psychology, lives in that neighborhood and saw the police confront someone after hearing sirens.
“I heard sirens for around ten minutes, and then I heard cops scream “Put your f—ing hands up!” Krupke said. “There are a lot of cops on our (17th) street, but I thought ‘Oh, my God. This is something serious.’”
The police news release states that the suspect tried to enter a parking lot in the 900 block of 18th Street South but fled from the vehicle. The vehicle rolled forward and struck a tree behind an apartment in the area, and the suspect was seen running northeast from the vehicle.
Rahil Pereira, president of Student Senate, also lives in that neighborhood and saw the confrontation. From his living room, Pereira heard loud screeches and, within seconds, heard sirens going off.
Police lights were flashing outside, and Pereira went to his bedroom to look out the window that faced the parking lot.
“At first I thought, ‘Why was there just a random car?’ There was no context,” Pereira said. “I wasn’t even scared. Why were they outside? Why were there guns, why are they yelling? But then we got the notification from the school.”
At 10:04 p.m., MSUM issued a security alert that notified students of the situation.
Pereira and Krupke said they saw police question a woman who was backing out of the parking lot. Pereira and Krupke both said they saw police talking with the woman for 45 minutes. Then they saw the woman and police leave separately.
Moorhead police are still investigating the situation. They have not apprehended the suspect, nor do they know where the stolen gun is.
Traveling with a gun in a vehicle is against the law unless the gun is unloaded and either fully secured in a gun case or in the closed trunk of the motor vehicle, according to Minnesota Statutes, section 97B.045.
A valid permit to carry a pistol is the exception to the rule.
According to Moorhead police Sgt. Clint Stephenson, the case is still under investigation, but if found, the suspect faces charges. If the gun is found, the owner of the 9mm handgun may also face charges for having it loaded and uncased in the vehicle.
Ryan Nelson, Director of Public Safety, assured that no other suspicious activity regarding this incident has been reported.
“I think it’s been enough days since that it’s safe to say he’s not hanging around campus anymore,” Nelson said.
Nelson did, however, encourage students to continue to take normal security and safety measures while walking around campus.
Kirsten Jensen, the chief marketing officer at MSUM, said that there has been a trend of people rifling around in vehicles, and she described the incident as a “crime of opportunity.”
“This is a good reminder to lock your cars and to make sure to take the valuables out,” Jensen said.
Stephenson advised everyone in the community to be on the lookout for anyone who may look suspicious and to call the on-duty supervisor of the Moorhead Police Department in regard to this crime. The non-emergency number is 701.451.7660. The main office number is 218.299.5120.
As of Friday, Jan. 25, the investigation is still in progress, and we will update the student body as new information is released.