Shooting death prompts ASU, Tempe police to urge extra vigilance - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Shooting death prompts ASU, Tempe police to urge extra vigilance

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:56 pm | Updated: 2:47 pm, Thu Sep 1, 2011.

Nearly two weeks after ASU student Zachary Marco was shot and killed walking from the school library, university and Tempe police are urging students to be more aware of their surroundings.

Arizona State University Police Cmd. Jim Hardina said too many are not paying attention.

"If you walk on campus today, you'll still see students with ear phones in, texting or talking on the phone," he said. "They're oblivious to what's around them. We want students to be aware of their surroundings and what's going on."

Marco, 21, was killed about 9:30 p.m. Oct. 17 near campus in the 1100 block of E. University Drive. Police say the suspects took Marco's old laptop computer and a cell phone.

"The first defense that students have against violent crimes is their own awareness," said Molly Enright, spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department. "We do live in a community that is safe, but we can't take that for granted ... Our first line of defense against predators is to be aware of the space around us."

Students this week said they still feel safe on campus. But some report they are making changes in their routines.

Sitting outside the ASU Memorial Union in Tempe this week, freshman Raechel Rojas, 18, said she used to walk alone at night after a study group or class. Lately, she's asked for a male friend to tag along as she traverses the campus to the dorms.

"I didn't feel comfortable," she said.

Freshman Kristen Cain said her parents bought her a can of mace after reports of a man groping students arose earlier this semester.

"I was walking around campus last night and as any bike riders came by I stared at their faces so, if I had to, I could repeat what they look like," Cain said.

Not only should students pay more attention, but should they be approached by someone who wants to take their stuff, Hardina advised they don't fight or resist.

The ASU Police Department held two safety forums last week. Crime prevention officers and staff from the Tempe Police Department were also present.

Another forum is being planned and Hardina said he hopes to host an online event for out-of-state parents.

Many have called asking about campus safety. Hardina said once he talks to them, they are more at ease.

"The most important thing we can do - aside from catching the suspects - is educating the students on personal safety," Hardina said.

Marco's slaying is the second killing of an ASU student in the last five months following the death of Kyleigh Sousa on May 26.

ASU is patrolled by both ASU police and Tempe police, Enright said.

The officers are on joint bike patrols, joint narcotics teams and joint action teams that respond to incidents in progress.

Since Marco's death, police have increased presence around campus, she said. This weekend, with Halloween celebrations, they will be in both marked cars and plain clothes around campus.

The suspects in Marco's killing are still at-large.

Most important, Enright said, is for anyone with any information regarding the shooting or the suspects to come forward.

"We are following up on significant leads, but it was dark that night. It was 9:30," she said, noting there were distractions from vehicle headlines on University Drive but that people may have gotten a glimpse of the vehicle or suspects. “We are asking them to call, even if they feel what they saw was minimal or insufficient, or only a partial glimpse of the vehicle or suspects. Sometimes the smallest detail can have the greatest impact.

"There are people out there, the suspects or potentially people the suspects have talked to, who are aware of what happened that night," she said. "People who have any information we're asking for them to call Silent Witness. We can assure them they remain anonymous and we will sift through all that information."

Police released more details earlier this week about the incident.

The shooter is described as a black male in his early 20s, about 6 feet tall, with a thin build and a short haircut, wearing a white T-shirt, blue shorts and a red bandana.

A second man believed to have been involved is described as black, approximately 25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build and wearing a dark T-shirt.

Both suspects may have fled the scene in a newer model, dark colored, four-door small sedan.

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