Armed robbery near Grove City College prompts lockdown, postpones opening convocation

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MERCER COUNTY, Pa. —

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Grove City College officials postponed an event Tuesday morning marking the beginning of the academic year because of reports of an armed robber about two miles from the private college's campus in Mercer County.

College officials initiated the school's emergency management plan and locked down the campus because police told them about the robbery shortly before 7 a.m., college spokeswoman Jacki Muller said.

Officials locked campus buildings, postponed classes and sent messages to staff and students via social media platforms, Muller said.

“Grove City, like most colleges and universities, takes campus safety very seriously. This was a very unusual situation,” Muller said. “Our students are our first concern and we want to make sure that our parents, faculty and staff know they’re safe.”

One of the emails said, “Your attention please. A dangerous situation has been identified near the campus. Please stay in your dorm. Police are searching for robbery suspect in the area. Stay inside.”

School officials ended the lockdown at 9:45 a.m., Muller said.

“In the spirit of being abundantly cautious, the president of the college thought it was important to reschedule the opening convocation, which kicks off the academic year for students,” Muller said.

The convocation is scheduled to occur at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The robbery took place about two miles northwest of campus, on Mercer Grove City Road, Muller said. Mercer County 911 dispatchers said the robbery was reported about 6:30 a.m.

According to police, at least two suspects went to a salvage yard on the outskirts of town and pistol-whipped the owner.

Police said the two fled the scene before throwing a gun out the window.

Channel 11 News was there as officers found the gun and other pieces of evidence.

“We have one suspect detained and we hope he gives us more information as we continue to search for any others involved in this,” said Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Bob Donaldson.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.