Student recounts strong-arm robbery


American River College student Monea Mitchell, 18, was the victim of a strong-arm robbery at the No. 1 bus stop on College Oak Drive, next to the main campus (Photo by John Ferrannini).

John Ferrannini

Update, Nov. 3 at 9:56 a.m.: This story has been updated to clarify the fact that the police told Monea Mitchell’s mother that Monea had to call 911 because they needed to track her location.

After her nighttime English class got out on Oct. 19, American River College student Monea Mitchell was waiting alone for the No. 1 bus on College Oak Drive.

Within minutes, the first-semester, 18-year-old ARC student was the victim of a strong-arm robbery, just a few yards from the administration building.

“I was just looking at my phone, and a man approached me and said ‘My friend said you stole his phone, an iPhone,’ ” said Mitchell.

The man, who crossed the street from the divide in the middle of College Oak, was quickly joined by another, who came at Mitchell from the staff parking lot.

“I was backing away. He (the first man) took my longboard. He said ‘If you give me the phone, I’ll give you the longboard,’ ” said Mitchell. “I was fumbling through my phone, whether to call the police or call my mom. The recents came up and I accidentally called my mom.

“He (the second man) said ‘If she tries to call anyone, just shoot her ass, just cap her ass.’ ”

Mitchell said that she initially thought of handing over her cellphone in exchange for her skateboard, but that after her life was threatened, she didn’t want to lose her only way of getting help.

“That’s what made me feel so terrified. I wouldn’t feel safe without my phone,” said Mitchell. “(One of the men) grabbed my wrist, and my screams started then.”

Mitchell started running. The suspects, skateboard in hand, ran across College Oak.

“I ran to Lot D,” said Mitchell. “They ran the same way, but on the other side (of the street). … I was afraid that they would shoot, so I was hiding in the trees and got behind one.”

According to an email sent to ARC students on Oct. 20, the morning after the robbery, the two suspects kept running northbound toward Auburn Boulevard.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s mother was listening to her daughter’s screams on her phone. She called 911, but was told that Monea had to so that the police could track her location.

According to the email, the incident was reported at 9:35 p.m.

Monea Mitchell's replacement skateboard, given to her by her mother, is inscribed 'Never Let Anyone Steal Your Sunshine' (Photo by John Ferrannini).
Monea Mitchell’s replacement skateboard, given to her by her mother, is inscribed ‘Never Let Anyone Steal Your Sunshine’ (Photo by John Ferrannini).

Officers from the Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene and Mitchell gave a description of the suspects.

Mitchell said she had just started using public transit regularly to get to and from her classes on the ARC main campus and at the McClellan center.

While she still uses buses during the day, she gets rides to and from her nighttime English class.

This year, Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) began the “See It, Hear It, Report It” campaign in an attempt to promote safety.

The campaign urges passengers to report emergencies to 911 and to report non-emergency crimes to private security hired by RT or to RT police.

Alane Masui, the director of communications for Regional Transit, said that crime connected to RT buses, light rail trains and stops has decreased by 25 percent in the last year.

“Oftentimes, RT bus stops are no more than a pole or bench on a street,” said Masui.

“Customers waiting for a bus are no different than anyone else who may be walking or standing on the street and may be the victim of a crime.”

Mitchell’s mother and stepmother put down the money for her to buy a new skateboard.

“I was really upset about what had happened,” said Mitchell, noting that a skateboard with the same design as her old one was “hard to find.”

“It’s engraved ‘Monea, never let anyone steal your sunshine,’ ” she said.