A man entered Residence Hall One on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 12:34 a.m. catching the door as a student was exiting. Jamal Wise, the USF St. Petersburg working at the front desk in RHO, informed the man that he couldn’t be in the building, and the man asked for water.
“He was really aggressive with the water,” Wise said.
Sky Roberts, working the shift before Wise, informed Wise that there had been a robbery at Subway earlier in the evening, and that police were on the lookout.
The man who entered the building was the same man that had allegedly robbed a downtown Subway on Third Street S. around 10 p.m. on August 22, later identified as Robert Allen Walker, 47. At Subway, he had asked to use the store’s phone, but the two workers on duty asked him to leave because the store was closed.
Walker allegedly had a knife at Subway. He was arrested later that night, the morning of August 23, outside of Residence Hall One and charged with robbery with a weapon, and held on $50,000 bail, according to the police report.
Wise followed Walker, who passed the water fountain and went directly to the vending machine. Wise assumed he was a homeless individual—until he saw the money in the man’s hand. Wise had his friend, student David Roberts, distract Walker while he went to call the police. Walker told Roberts that he had just gotten into a fistfight, and kept asking if there were police around.
“We kept calm heads,” Wise said. “We told him he had to leave.”
Walker exited the building, and before he made it across the street, campus police and St. Petersburg police officers arrived and surrounded him. It was verified that he was the Subway robber. He was no longer in possession of the knife seen at Subway at the time of arrest, and police came into the dorm building looking to see if it had been stashed somewhere.
Wise has worked the front desk of the dorms since 2008.
“That was the most serious event to ever happen on my shift,” Wise said. Although he was very nervous, “I think I did everything to the best of my abilities,” Wise said.
Due to the dorms being full, there are also students staying at the Hilton downtown. Although they are not staying in the dorms, General Manager Jeff Brinda said that all doors on the sides of the building lock at 9 p.m. and can only be exited but not entered. The front door locks at 11 p.m. There is 24-hour coverage at the hotel’s front desk, and security guards are in the building at night walking the floors.
Photo by Daniel Mutter