SFCC student abducted; 3 men arrested
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Gainesville Police arrested three Ocala men after a Santa Fe Community College student was abducted and robbed at gunpoint outside a NW 13th Street store early Saturday.
Jabarvis Vance, 19, Shane A. Austin, 18, and James Lorenzo Autry, 19, were being held without bond at the Alachua County jail Saturday evening on charges of robbery with a firearm and kidnapping, according to police and jail records.
Rolf Petersen, 21, phoned 911 after robbers forced him into his car outside Wal-Mart, 2649 NW 13th St., and demanded he withdraw money from his bank account using his ATM card, said Lt. Scott Meffen. The robbery occurred at about 1:20 a.m.
The student and his girlfriend had been shopping at the store when he left to go outside and have a cigarette, Meffen said.
Petersen said he then walked to his car to put his purchases away when he saw the men near the vehicle. "They turned away when I was walking toward them," Petersen said. But then, "They came up behind me as I was at the driver door."
Petersen said he felt a gun stuck to his back and was ordered to get in his car.
The pair wanted cash, Petersen said, but he told the men he only had $3.
Police say the robbers then ordered Petersen to drive to the nearby Bank of America, 2815 NW 13th St., and get cash from an ATM. Petersen told the two he didn't have much money in his account, but they put a gun to his head and told him to hit a button on the ATM, he told police.
Petersen said he gave $20 to the robbers.
Afterward, Petersen was forced to drive his car to bushes near the bank, police reported. His attackers took his keys, pointed the gun to his face and told him to stay inside or they would shoot him, he told officers. They fled to a vehicle apparently parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot and drove away, police said.
A witness was able to give police a description of the robbers' vehicle, a newer model, gray Ford Excursion, officers reported.
Officers working an off-duty assignment at Alley Gatorz, 2606 NE Waldo Road, later spotted a sport utility vehicle matching the description, said police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.
Inside the Excursion, police found a loaded .25-caliber handgun and Petersen's wallet, Meffen said.
Vance, Austin and Autry were arrested soon after. Police allege Vance and Austin held up Petersen while Autry waited in the getaway vehicle, Meffen said.
Petersen, who is from Clearwater, moved to Gainesville in 2005.
"I had never really been afraid for my life until this morning. To me it seems like there's been a definite increase in violent crime and just overall chaos," he said.
"They robbed me for 20 bucks," Petersen said. "It's like a senseless act. I could have gotten killed in the process."
College students have been victims of several high-profile cases in recent days.
Earlier this week, two University of Florida students reported they had been raped, one by a stranger who broke into her home and another by an acquaintance staying at the residence. Both cases occurred in the College Park area north of UF. Police are still investigating both cases and have issued an arrest warrant for a Haines City man wanted in the acquaintance rape.
Kameg said students and others need to remember to always follow safety tips and be aware of their surroundings.
"We want people to be careful," he said, noting that officers were in the area late Friday and early Saturday where the rape cases occurred. They came across some young adults who were drunk and didn't know where they were.
"They were all in the area where the sexual battery took place," Kameg said, referring to the case of the stranger rape. "They said they had heard about it but didn't think there was going to be a problem."
Lise Fisher can be reached at 374-5092.
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