School officials said the incident took place between 12:15 and 12:45 p.m. at the teller window of the bursar’s office, where students pay tuition and other bills. The office is directly across the hall from the university president's office.
JSU police Chief Shawn Giddy said no one was hurt in the incident, although the suspect was armed with a black semi-automatic handgun. Giddy said witnesses described the suspect as a 5-foot-5, slender, black male wearing a red shirt and either black pants or shorts. He wrapped a white T-shirt around his face to cover it and had a black backpack with blue straps.
“We don’t know at this point how much (money was taken),” Angie Finley, spokeswoman for JSU, said Friday afternoon.
The alleged crime came on the last regular day of class, as students prepared for final exams beginning next week.
The office usually houses eight employees, as well as several student workers, she said. But given the time of day, it’s likely that fewer people than normal were inside. In fact, most employees in the building, including Finley, were gone to lunch at that time, she said.
Shortly after the incident, campus police officers in Bibb Graves Hall could be seen checking trash cans in the building for anything the alleged robber might have discarded. Finley said the office is protected through a door lock that can be used to prevent entry. Giddy said police are reviewing security cameras positioned around campus.
Most university employees in Bibb Graves Hall declined to answer questions, saying administrators had instructed them not to talk to reporters. One worker declined to say whether there was a glass partition behind the metal shade in the bursar’s office window. Tim Garner, the school’s marketing and communications director, said it is standard procedure for employees to clear contact with the press through the public relations office.
Students in the building Friday afternoon said the robbery didn’t worry them.
“I understand this is a college campus, and a variety of people come in and out of these buildings every day,” said Allison Smith, a senior, of Hartselle. “This is my fourth year at the university, and I feel very comfortable on campus.”
Daisy Cardona, a senior from Dalton, Ga., said she’d heard people in other offices in the building talking about a masked man with a gun demanding money from a female employee at the bursar’s office.
“Nothing ever really goes on here, other than cars getting broken into,” she said. “I’m sure whoever (the alleged robber) is, he’s gone now.”
Willa Gamble, one of two custodians in the building, said mid-afternoon that the news of the robbery was unsettling for many people, herself included. Gamble has worked for JSU for four years.
“It’s scary. We (custodians) come in this building every morning at 6:30,” she said. “I probably won’t feel scared after today, but right now, a bunch of people in the building still have their doors locked.”
Contact staff writer Rebecca Walker at 256-235-3562.