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Two Harlem Students Robbed at Knifepoint on Walk to School, Police Say

By Gustavo Solis | October 6, 2015 8:53am
 Two students were robbed at knifepoint last week while walking to school, police said.
Two students were robbed at knifepoint last week while walking to school, police said.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

HARLEM — A knife-wielding robber is targeting teenagers on their walk to school along East 116th Street, police said.

The NYPD has increased its presence near the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics after two robberies last week.

“We doubled up,” said Deputy Inspector Thomas Harnisch.

“We have two cars that are going to be out there. My school team is aware of it and it is patrolling the area.”

An unmarked NYPD vehicle is also in the area, he said.

The first robbery happened on Thursday about 7:55 a.m. in front of 164 East 116th St. A 15-year-old was walking to school when a man between the ages of 18 and 20 asked him for the time.

When the boy pulled out his phone the man took out a kitchen knife and said, “I’m not playing games. Give me your phone and whatever else you got in your pockets,” according to the NYPD.

He asked for the password to the boy’s phone and left.

The next day, around the same time, a 14-year-old boy walking to school was also robbed at knife point. The man, who police suspect is also behind for the first robbery, told the boy “I’m not the gun type” and showed him a knife.

He then asked the boy how much money he had and what it was for. The boy told the man that he had $20 and it was for a school uniform. The man took the money and shook the boy’s hand, police said.

“He is preying on little kids about 14 and 15 years old,” Harnisch said.

A Department of Education spokesman said they are cooperating with police and counselors are available to anyone who needs them.

Monday morning, students from the school on 115th Street and Pleasant Avenue were surprised to hear about the robberies. The students usually walk in large groups to the subway station when they are leaving school

“Yes, I feel safe,” a junior said. “This is a good school.”

When similar violence stalked Chicago school children, a group of volunteers began shepherding students to a school where a gang of teens had reportedly been robbing kids at gunpoint.

Currently in Harlem, school safety officers patrol inside the school and the area right outside before and after class. The NYPD precinct’s school team takes care of anything beyond that between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Harnisch said.

He thought a volunteer team like the one in Chicago would be a good idea in East Harlem.

“That would be great if we could get something like that going here,” he said.

Earlier last week two other teens were robbery victims elsewhere in East Harlem.

On Tuesday about 5:20 p.m., two men robbed a 15-year-old near 121st Street and Third Avenue. One of them told the boy, “Keep walking, don’t make a scene. I have a gun,” according to the NYPD.

The men walked away with $9 and an iPhone.

On Wednesday, a group of five teens between 15 and 18 attacked a 16-year-old boy near 1891 Park Ave. about 8 a.m. The group pushed him to the ground and stole his phone, police said.