Victim Of Violent Armed Robbery Still Recovering
Police are investigating a string of armed robberies, including one that put a UNR student in the hospital.
Turner Gustafson says Friday night started off great. The University of Nevada junior went to a pancake feed at a sorority, raising money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Sometime after 1:30, Saturday morning, he was walking back to his friend's car on Nevada Street. Three men got out of the car, which was parked just two spaces in front of them.
"These guys were just walking towards us," Gustafson said. "We saw them in the distance and didn't think anything of it. People had been passing us all night."
Gustafson's friend got into the driver's side of the car and he got into the passenger's side. That's when a violent armed robbery happened.
"I was closing the door and then somebody grabbed it from the outside and stopped the door where it was," Gustafson said. "Just like that, in the snap of a finger I was pulled out of the car, told to empty my pockets and started getting punched in the face, in the chest, in the neck."
Gustafson says at first, he did not comply with the robber, and says that is probably why he was beaten so badly. He says while that was happening, one of the men held a gun on his friend and threatened to pistol whip him. The third suspect searched the car for things to steal.
"They pulled us out of the car, beat us up and took everything we had, held us at gunpoint, then just drove away," Gustafson said.
Gustafson says his assailant knocked him out at one point. After they left, the two victims went back home and called the police. The robbers stole many items from the car, his keys, phone and wallet. He also had to go to the hospital for his injuries.
"I had blood all over my shirt, I had a cut on my chin, my lip is still swollen, my head was pounding, I have a concussion still, and then some bruising," Gustafson said.
He says he still has to wear sunglasses because the concussion makes his eyes more sensitive to light and his cuts and bruises are healing.
The Reno Police Department says there were four reported armed robberies near UNR's campus that night. Officers believe the crimes are connected but they have conflicting details of the suspects and vehicle. Gustafson grew up in Reno and says he is shocked that the attack happened to him in such a safe neighborhood. Along with the physical injuries, he says he also has emotional scars.
"I still have anxiety walking home from class at night, walking home from basketball games, football games," Gustafson said.
He wants other people in the area to be aware of their surroundings and even recommends walking in a group of at least four.
"Anybody that's in that situation, you can't do anything," Gustafson said. "It happened so fast and they've done it before, so you can't do anything."
The UNR Police Department is also encouraging students, faculty and staff to be aware of their surroundings. There are more than 100 emergency stations around campus that people can use when they are in danger, but there is less-protection off-campus.
"We are obviously making sure everybody's aware of what's going on, providing our officers with the information they need, and hopefully being visible out there," Todd Renwick, Assistant Chief of the UNR Police Department said.
Renwick says being aware is especially important after dark. He says students should take advantage of the Campus Escort for a ride to and from the college. If it is too late, he says they should consider taking an Uber.
"We don't necessarily get this type of activity on or around our campus, so it is unusual and it brings concern to everybody," Renwick said.
Nearby businesses are also encouraging their employees to take extra precautions. Especially, employees who get off work later in the night.