Students grateful for arrests in VCU “mob” assault cases, but still cautious

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Students we spoke with on the campus at VCU Tuesday were cautiously relieved, calling the arrests a step in the right direction.

 But they still don't feel like they can let their guard down.

The widely distributed surveillance video of the crime scene changed the life of VCU senior Tyrone Willis at the start of the fall semester.  “I was concerned just going to library and to my dorm to see who might be surrounding me," said Willis.

Police have now identified three people involved in the beating and robbery of a VCU student and another beating on the VCU campus on August 22.  Brothers Zachary and Adam Wallace of Henrico are charged with assault by mob and a 17-year-old teenage male has been charged with robbery.

The crimes happened in two different places, all just before 3 a.m., near the intersection of West Franklin and Shafer Street and Grace and Shafer Street.

Police said that the mob was mostly males, ages 15 to 22 years old.

As for the other dozen or so people in the group in the video, “A lot of the other individuals were just present,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti. 

Venuti credits the community for identifying the suspects. He says the crimes were random: the victims were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

“A group of individuals just came across the two victims,” said Venuti.  “If you were in the way or if I was in the way, we could've been victims. They were unaffiliated with VCU, just walking in the area with bad intentions."

Their thug-like behavior has caused Chanel Willis's parents to rethink her sister’s pursuit of higher learning.  “My parents won't let my sister come here anymore because of this," she said.

News of the arrests has calmed the nerves of some.  “The fact that they caught these guys makes me happier,” said Meron Asfaha, a sophomore at VCU. 

Others say it's a life lesson they won't soon forget.  “It happened two hours after I was on that street.  So I just don't go out late by myself anymore," said Willis.

Chief Venuti says their investigation isn't over, adding  that the way the dominoes fell in this case proves people out here are not willing to tolerate such violence.