Neighbors react to Varsity Place apartment robbery, assault

TYLER (KYTX) -- People living in the Varsity Place apartments near the UT Tyler campus are concerned about their safety after learning one of their neighbors was pistol whipped and ended up in the emergence room during a robbery Tuesday morning.

"Yeah, for sure we get worried because we are students and we have to room all the time," Varsity resident Sahi Tyathitibomma said.

She said it's no secret that the complex has a history of problems, but without the ability to make a long commute multiple times a day she doesn't have a lot of options.

"I stay in Varsity because it's pretty close to my campus," she said.

Tyler Police are still figuring things out but they know three masked men showed up at Apartment 2009 about 1:00 Tuesday morning. Neighbors told CBS 19 they heard a loud truck outside the apartment around the same time. The robbers forced their way in and told 21-year-old Dearis Davis they wanted all his money.

Police say there were two more witnesses. It was a room mate and his girlfriend. Investigators say the attackers tied them up in the bathroom and they're hoping those two can shed some light on what the three masked men looked like.

"Don't let anyone in your house," J'Nae Hall said. "Don't get all friendly. Don't be like 'Oh, come to my house! Let's play!' No, you speak outside and you keep it going."

Hall told us she's lived at Varisity long enough to know not to take chances.

"I feel like there should be more security," she said. "It should be more forced. If they could do a time limit or a curfew or something."

The complex claims to have a 10:00 p.m. curfew but several people said it's not much good.

Tuesday's attack is more worrisome than it may otherwise have been thanks to a series of problems at Varsity and at the nearby Cambridge apartments. Police say this one was more violent than past attacks.

"It's one thing to come in and rob him but when they actually assault him in the process and cause serious bodily injury they've definitely taken it to another step," Tyler Police Officer Don Martin said.

Davis had several bones in his face fractured and probably needs surgery. For the time being he's been released from the hospital.

UT Tyler Police Chief Mike Medders released a statement saying: "We notified our campus as soon as we were aware of the situation. The safety of our students is always a priority."

UT Tyler does not own or operate either apartment complex mentioned in this story.

Management at Varsity Place declined to comment for this story.


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