Robbers abduct 2 Hopkins students


An article in yesterday's editions about an abduction and robbery in Federal Hill reported an incorrect date. The incident occurred Jan. 25.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Shotgun-toting robbers abducted two Johns Hopkins University students in separate holdups early yesterday, pulling pillowcases over their heads and taking them on terrifying rides to ATM machines near the normally peaceful college campus.

The robbers, still on the loose late last night, abducted a 19-year-old female undergraduate shortly before dawn and a 24-year-old male medical student about two hours later.

In each attack, the robbers followed the same script:

They confronted the students with shotguns, pulled pillowcases over their heads and forced them into waiting cars. They ordered the students to disclose their automated teller machine code numbers and then tried to loot their bank accounts.

After the 30-minute ordeals, the robbers pushed the students out of the cars and sped away -- leaving one standing at 30th Street and Guilford Avenue with the pillowcase still covering her head.

"I didn't know what they were going to do with me," said Cristian Tampe, 24, a medical student from Chile. "When they started pushing me in that car, I didn't know if I was going to make it."

In the past six days, robbers in Baltimore have used the same harrowing tactic three times -- a frightening development for Maryland's estimated 2.5 to 3 million ATM cardholders.

Police said yesterday's holdups were probably pulled off by the same three robbers. They are examining a Jan. 24 robbery to determine whether it is the work of the same men.

Robbers abducted a Baltimore Sun editor in Federal Hill, wrapped a piece of cloth around his face, demanded his ATM code number and withdrew $740 from his account.

"They told me to be quiet or I would be killed," James S. Keat said yesterday.

On Monday, the robbers struck first at 4:30 a.m. Jennifer Michelle Bohan, 19, was outside her apartment in the 3400 block of N. Charles St. when a man armed with what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun stepped up behind her. He pulled a pillowcase over her head and forced her into a waiting car, police spokesman Doug Price said.

Ms. Bohan told police she believed there were two other men in the car. They demanded her wallet and her ATM code number, and ordered her to lie down on the car's back seat. A few minutes later, they pulled up to a cash machine. There was no money in her account, though.

The men then drove around for several minutes in an apparent attempt to disorient Ms. Bohan before dropping her at 30th Street and Guilford Avenue, the pillowcase still on her head.

"She's told, 'Start walking, don't take the pillowcase off, don't look back,' " Mr. Price said.

Two hours after that robbery, the robbers struck again a few blocks away. Mr. Tampe said he was walking to his car in the 3900 block of Canterbury Road about 6:30 a.m. when two men approached him, one of them brandishing a sawed-off shotgun.

"I had never seen a shotgun up close," he said. "I was wondering what it was."

Mr. Tampe, a third-year medical student, said the men put a pillowcase over his head and forced him into a waiting car.

Once in the car, the robbers took his watch, his wallet, his credit cards, $60 in cash and his ATM card. They then demanded his ATM code number.

"They threatened to kill me if I gave them the wrong number," Mr. Tampe said.

The robbers stopped at an ATM machine and stole $240 from his account.

"When they came back to the car they said, 'You did good, my friend. We're going to let you go now,' " Mr. Tampe said.

They released Mr. Tampe in the 400 block of E. 33rd St.

The robberies prompted police to add extra patrols in the Canterbury-Homewood section of the city, an affluent, tree-lined neighborhood where break-ins, not robberies and abductions, are the typical crime.

At Johns Hopkins, administrators added extra security patrols in the neighborhood surrounding the Homewood campus and urged students to take free escorts to and from their rooms and cars.

"This is not a crime-free neighborhood by any means, but something like this will capture the attention of our students," said Dennis O'Shea, a university spokesman.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who lives two blocks from where Mr. Tampe was abducted, said she will call the Northern and Southern police districts to make sure they compare notes on the crimes.

"Until they're apprehended, I think everyone has to be careful," she said.

Police said they are putting together a profile of the robbers and calling other city districts to determine whether there have been any similar incidents. They are also showing mug shots to the victims and determining whether any of the ATM machines were equipped with hidden cameras.

For now, police are content no one was injured.

"Human nature says, 'I've got a pillowcase over my head, we're going for a ride,' you have to believe the worst," said Capt. Michael Bass, deputy commander of the Northern District.

"We were very fortunate this time."

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