"I figured it was nothing" can be dangerous words in a college town.
With recent bouts of crime escalating from sporadic burglaries and robberies to a full-blown homicide, students may become less and less alarmed each time they receive a UCF Alert.
But living in an apartment complex where crime is a normal occurrence, and where residents don't think twice when gun shots ring out, is cause for worry.
Most recently, a dead body was discovered in an apartment at Campus Crossings Alafaya after several residents reported hearing gun shots. While I was on the scene, covering the incident for the Central Florida Future, only one resident spoke to me with fear in his voice. Quinten Roberts, a junior mathematics major, had just arrived at the complex after a long day, only to find his home roped off with yellow tape and the parking lot around it decorated with lit police cars. His voice quivered as he spoke and recalled watching an officer carry what looked like a rifle.
While walking around the complex, I noticed units with front doors wide open and men dodging cop cars on skateboards like a maze. Once outside the complex, waiting for more information from the Orange County Sheriff's Office, two girls walked by and asked what happened. My staff and I told them someone had been shot. Walking along Lokanotosa Trail at 9:30 p.m. is a foolish activity in itself, but the nonchalant attitude with which the girls brushed off the news of a shooting was truly baffling.
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Like Orange County Lt. Paul Hopkins said, "People should not live paranoid, but they should be cautious and aware of their surroundings any time."
Another Campus Crossings resident and UCF student Anthony Colon said he heard a "popping" sound about a half hour before a 911 phone call was placed to OCSO, but when asked if he did anything about it, his only response was a shrug of the shoulders. Hearing suspicious gun-like sounds is a weekly occurrence, he said, and it's usually just kids shooting off fireworks.
But this time it wasn't. And who's to say it won't be the next time?
Caroline Glenn is the News Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @bycarolineglenn or email her at CarolineGCentralFloridaFuture.com.