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Enloe assistant principal mugged on campus

Attack adds to anxiety at the campus that has experienced violent crimes recently

- Staff Writers

Published: Sat, Jan. 17, 2009 12:30AM

Modified Sat, Jan. 17, 2009 04:23AM

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RALEIGH -- The mugging of an Enloe High School assistant principal early Friday morning is the latest in a series of violent crimes that have beset the campus this school year. Now parents are wondering: What are school officials and the police going to do to ensure student and faculty safety?

Carrie Jacobs parked behind one of the school buildings about 6:45 a.m. and was approached by a young man wearing dark clothing and some type of white cap, according to Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. He said the man struck Jacobs, stole her purse and fled on foot. He remained at large late Friday. Jacobs was not seriously injured, police reported.

Enloe's magnet program attracts students from across Wake County, making it one of the largest schools in the district. But the 47-year-old school has a smaller campus and less student parking than newer high schools and is in an urban area surrounded by homes.

INCIDENTS ON AND AROUND CAMPUS

* SEPT. 11: Police arrested six students who they think were involved in an on-campus, gang-related fight that involved up to 20 students. The six students were detained by a school resource officer.

* NOV. 25: A student, Grey Idol, was beaten and kicked by three men in the school parking lot about 2:45 p.m. after classes had been dismissed for the day.

* WEEK OF DEC. 5: Enloe's Parent-Teacher Association sent an e-mail message warning students to avoid walking alone on campus after the attack on Idol. Police think one of the suspects -- who are all still at large -- may have recorded the assault using a cell phone.

* DEC. 18: An Enloe student was robbed at gunpoint and another was assaulted in the 300 block of Bertie Drive, about two blocks from the school's west building. One student told police two men approached him. One pulled out a handgun and robbed him of his iPod. Moments later at the same location, a second student called police and reported that he had been approached by two men. One had a knife and pushed him to the ground, but he was not robbed.

LETTER FROM PRINCIPAL

Hello, this is Beth Cochran, principal of Enloe High School, with a voice message to our parents regarding an incident that happened this morning. One of our assistant principals was arriving at school today and as she was getting out of her car, an unidentified suspect approached her and stole her purse.

This all happened very quickly, and while she was knocked down, there were no injuries beyond minor bumps and bruises. We immediately notified Raleigh Police as well as Wake County Public Schools System security who are investigating the incident.

I will share additional information with you as circumstances warrant.

SOURCE: WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Many students park off campus; one robbery and one assault occurred last month on nearby Bertie Drive, where many students park.

Colleen Vitek, who has two sons at Enloe, said more needs to be done to ensure safety, especially if Enloe wants to keep attracting magnet students.

"The school system has to ensure that all the schools are equally safe," said Vitek, who lives in North Raleigh. "If they need additional resources from Raleigh or Wake County, they need to get them."

Vitek said she already tells her sons, who park off campus, not to walk alone to and from the car.

Another Enloe parent, Whitney McMahan of North Raleigh, would welcome additional security, but feels her two children are safe on campus and that other Enloe parents are being overly emotional.

"There's a lot going on at Enloe," McMahan said. "But I don't think it's any worse than at any other high school."

McMahan's daughter, Michelle, 14, a freshman, said students just need to act smart. For instance, she said that she doesn't flash her cell phone or iPod around.

"You just have to be careful," Michelle said.

Safety on the radar

The school hosted a special panel on safety Tuesday after its regular Parent-Teacher-Student Association meeting, and police have already beefed up patrols near the school in response to last month's robbery and assault, Sughrue said Friday.

"We have had officers patrolling the area," he said. "We will continue to increase patrols before school and during after-school hours."

Starting Monday, the school system will have a bike patrol officer in Enloe's parking lot at 6:30 a.m. The other bike patrol officer has already begun working at 6:30 a.m., focusing on Bertie Drive.

Administrators are also reviewing lighting and other security issues on campus, Russ Smith, the Wake school system's senior director for security, said Friday.

Crime continues

Laurie Smith, who was the victim of an on-campus mugging in November after a high school football game, said Friday that she doesn't understand why school administrators, police and community organizations in the area have not asked parents to join forces and taken drastic action.

"If they asked 40 parents to patrol the area every day, I would volunteer and sign up 39 more parents," said Smith, whose son Zachary is a senior at Enloe. "I don't blame the police. I blame the school administration. I think their mode of operation is to conceal what's going on."

Jacobs was not the only victim of a crime on campus Friday. Someone smashed the window of the car that Zachary Smith parked off campus.

"A police car was waiting by his car for him," Laurie Smith said.

Police urge anyone with information about the robbery to call the Raleigh Police Department at 996-3555.

thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver .com or 919-829-4533

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News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.

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