UPDATE: Police arrested Jared Smith of Azle on August 24 for the robbery of a Whataburger there. During the investigation it was determined he was responsible for the Starbucks robberies in July and August in University Park. He’s in the Dallas County Jail on a $100,000 bond for the Starbucks robberies.
UNIVERSITY PARK (CBSDFW.COM) – Twice in the last three weeks a man has walked into Starbucks on Hillcrest Avenue (just steps from SMU) with a handgun and robbed it. And police believe it was same person both times.
“I was shocked, and then I was double-shocked when it happened twice,” says Heide Levy, co-owner of Highland Park Watch and Jewelry Exchange. “It scared me. It really scared me, because I thought, we are not secure from anything.”
She worries especially about SMU students, who visit the store close to campus frequently.
“It’s surprising, especially in this area,” says SMU student Kelly Brunstein. “It’s always been a really safe area, and you don’t really hear about things like that happening around here.”
Another SMU student, Katie Hegarty is worried about her safety, too.
“Thinking about an armed robbery so close to where we frequent is a little alarming,” says Hegarty.
The first robbery happened July 27 around 6 a.m. Two men demanded money from the cash register and took off on Hillcrest. Then, last Saturday, another man did the same. Both times the robbers covered their faces. Police believe it was the same person, who may also be responsible for other business robberies.
“You are vulnerable everywhere you are. It doesn’t matter. Good part, bad part. Everywhere,” says Levy.
Police say they hope a witness account from Saturday will lead them to an arrest. He saw a man dart out of Starbucks, sprint into an alley then jump into a silver or grey pickup truck. The witness tried to follow the truck but lost it. Now, with school ready to resume, residents hope students especially will stay aware of their surroundings.
“I hope that everybody coming in from SMU will be sure to pay attention and not get lulled to sleep,” says resident Kelli Macatee.
An SMU spokesperson issued the following statement to CBS11: “Our first concern at SMU is always for our students. SMU hosts two Starbucks cafes directly on university property. The hillcrest location is not on or adjacent to the campus and falls under the jurisdiction of the University Park police department. UP police are responding to these incidents in a manner that supports public safety.”
Starbucks issued a statement as well, which reads: “Local authorities are helping make sure we can continue to provide our partners (employees) and customers with a safe store environment. We will continue to support them in any way we can during their investigation.”