Police arrested two armed teenagers on the steps of the Art & Architecture building Friday night, according to students who witnessed the incident.
The witnesses, who left the building after the arrest occurred, said police officers told them two teenagers loitering in front of the building were in possession of a gun and a large knife. Representatives from the Yale Police Department were unable to comment, and University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith could not be reached over the weekend.
Katie Wiacek ’08 and Ellen Cameron ’08 said they saw three police officers at about 9:30 p.m. on Friday arresting two teenagers who appeared to be around 13 years old.
“The police said they told us what happened so we wouldn’t think they were picking on kids,” Cameron said.
Cameron said she saw the two teens sitting on the stairs when she entered the building an hour earlier, but there had been other students around at that time. When she and Wiacek left, Cameron said, only the police were there, though other students arrived a few minutes later.
Wiacek said she was surprised by the timing of the arrests since it was still relatively early in the evening and the show across the street at the Yale Repertory Theatre ended about 10 minutes later.
Prior to Friday’s incident, Wiacek said, the location of the building near several residential colleges and relatively busy streets had been reassuring. Though she felt uneasy her first time leaving the building, she said she had never been afraid.
“I felt safe even late at night since I’ve been here so many times,” she said. “You don’t really have a choice, so you have to pretend you’re safe.”
But some architecture students said the circumstances of the incident have made them more wary of their safety and security near the building. The arrests, some said, have made them more aware of possible threats, especially because of the inconveniences caused by ongoing construction.
Alexander Sassaroli ’08 said even before he saw the police cars in front of the building on Friday, he had been concerned about his safety when leaving the building. Architecture students, he said, often do not leave the building until very late at night or early in the morning when streets are virtually empty.
Sassaroli said his he thinks the construction taking place on the lot next door to the Art & Architecture building has made the situation more dangerous, since one side of the building’s entrance is closed to the public and parts of the sidewalk near the intersection of Chapel and York streets are closed.
“The fences and concrete barriers they have set up close up what should be a very open and public entrance,” he said. “It’s scary because there isn’t really anywhere to go or escape to [on] the slim chance that there is someone there who wants to hurt you.”
Like Sassaroli, architecture student Sarah Yin ’08 said in an e-mail that the arrests have made her uneasy.
“Before this I felt very safe here since there are always people here at all hours,” she said. “But now I am concerned, because we have to work here until very late at night, often not leaving the building until four or five in the morning, and we usually walk home alone.”
While the students said they understood that the fencing was needed for construction purposes, they said they would like to see more of a police presence around the building at night along with more lighting by the entrance.
Though a blue phone is located by the building’s entrance, there is currently no security guard stationed at the building during evening hours. A Yale ID is needed to unlock the door to the building.