A 58-year-old Vietnam veteran, his wife and her friend were the victims of a brutal home invasion on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Several unidentified young males barged into an Upland Avenue residence, knocked the man from his wheelchair and pummeled him before forcing him to “call his women.” Upon arrival, the man’s wife was attacked in the driveway and forced to withdraw money from an ATM, while her friend was commanded to undress for the remaining attackers. While the wife was only forced to surrender the money, her friend, a resident of Morrisville, Pa., was sexually assaulted inside the house.
While this attack is disturbing in its own right, the fact that it occurred on Upland Avenue, only three blocks from the College, has raised serious concerns among students. Upland Avenue lies off Browning Avenue, directly across from the Green Lane entrance to campus. The crime scene is in the vicinity of several houses owned by organizations both athletic and Greek.
Ewing police arrested a 16-year-old male on Jan. 24 in connection with the attack, charging him with robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault and weapons offenses.
“We don’t know exactly what role he played but he was involved. He was one of the four,” Sgt. Gregory Smith, Ewing Township Police spokesperson said in an article published in The Times of Trenton.
Smith also told reporters that the man they have in custody has ties to the Bloods, a street gang. When asked if the incident on Upland Avenue could have been part of an initiation rite, Smith said that it was unlikely, but he wasn’t exactly sure what a Bloods initiation rite would entail.
Several students were shaken up by the occurrence of a possibly gang-affiliated rape so close to campus.
“Well, I am surprised that there is gang violence going on in Ewing,” Rowena Briones, junior communication studies major, said. “Ewing doesn’t necessarily strike me as a gang town.”
Julia Carey, sophomore deaf and hard of hearing education/English major, was also disturbed by the incident. While she lives on campus this year, the residence she has leased for next semester is directly around the corner from the scene of the crime.
“I think it adds a sense of tension to the campus, especially for those who live off campus in that very neighborhood,” Carey said. “Living on campus, we feel very removed from the surrounding areas, but when something like this happens so close to us, it reminds us that we live very close to a dangerous city and the crime certainly doesn’t stay within that city. It threatens our safety as students, on and off campus.”
Smith tried to put some of the students’ potential fears to rest in an interview with The Signal earlier in the week.
“We don’t believe it was a random incident,” Smith said. “This couple was targeted. I don’t believe this is an issue of concern for the neighbors.”
Ewing police backed up Smith’s statement on Wednesday, Jan. 24, revealing that the veteran and the Morrisville woman were romantically involved. The husband and wife have been estranged for an undisclosed amount of time and were living together until they could move into separate apartments.
Smith admitted that the Ewing police were investigating other leads aside from what has been loosely labeled “a love triangle,” but he was unable to discuss them because the case is still under investigation.