Armed robberies at Georgia State Library: Time to close the book on public access?

I spoke to a bright group of journalism students at Georgia State University Wednesday afternoon, getting there an hour early to walk the campus where I once taught a basic reporting class. I stopped by the library, trying to figure out why it was such an easy target for robberies and hoping the downtown campus had seen the last of that danger.

Nope. On Thursday morning, it happened again.

The AJC reported:

The university said two more GSU students have been robbed at gunpoint in Library North, the scene of multiple armed robberies in the last month. The latest victims said they were robbed of their laptops, the university said in the alert sent Thursday morning. Both robberies occurred before 8 a.m.

At least four robberies have been reported since December — all happening at Library North at the intersection of Decatur and Courtland streets.

said the university is looking into why robberies keep happening in the library. “Armed robberies are very rare at Georgia State and certainly inside the buildings,” he said.

One factor at play may be the isolated study areas of the library, which may allow robbers to remain hidden, Mullis said. “We are increasing our police and security patrols of campus and specifically in and around the libraries,” he added.

Library robberies started on campus Dec. 15, when a student was robbed at gunpoint of his cellphone and laptop at about 1:30 p.m.

The Georgia State library has been the seen of several armed robberies. (GSU Photo)

The Georgia State library has been the seen of several armed robberies. (GSU Photo)

High school seniors across the state are deciding where to go to college, and these library robberies cast a shadow on GSU. I have heard parents express concerns about their teens attending Georgia State as a result of the rash of robberies.

Here is what GSU President Mark Becker said this afternoon:

To the Georgia State community,

I am deeply concerned about the recent string of robberies in the university’s library, and I am taking immediate action to vigorously address security issues. The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff is our first priority.

I have authorized University Police to:

•Double the number of police officers on each shift patrolling campus.

•Take steps to secure all exits and entrances, including having uniformed officers at each entrance checking the Panther IDs of all faculty, staff and students.

•Install additional security cameras at the library.

•Temporarily close the library to the public while we put new security measures in place.

•Hold campus safety forums to hear concerns from our community.

We will take aggressive action and put all of our enforcement resources to bear in finding the perpetrator of these crimes.

A parent asked me the obvious question two weeks ago, “Why doesn’t GSU end public access of any kind to its library?”

I sent that question to GSU at the time. Today, Deputy Chief Mullis sent me this response:

“We are very much concerned as to how the individual or individuals are entering the Library. Part of our investigation into the incidents is to find out the answer. Access to the Libraries is certainly something under discussion balanced with our interest in being an asset to the greater community. Many of the resources at our Libraries are only available at Georgia State and viewable in person.”


Reader Comments 0


Armed robberies?  On a college campus?  INSIDE the library????

I thought colleges were supposed to be "gun free zones"?  Didn't the perpetrator see the signs?

I see the AJC finally published a sketch.  Black guy with tats on his neck.  Wow, didn't see that one coming....

Drive by GSU during lunch and you can see why the students are easy pickin's - most will be walking around like zombies with their nose stuck in their smart phone.  

But INSIDE the library??  That's pretty ballsy, even by crime-ridden Atlanta's standards.  I'm also wondering how many students saw the perpetrator and thought he looked suspicious, but didn't want to call security because they were afraid they would be accused of racism for profiling a black guy?  Probably several.

In my best Jeff Foxworthy voice:  If you're a black guy in a college library without a mop and broom, you might be a robber.  Heh, heh, let the Pavlovian cries of "dat's racisss" begin.

BTW, I love the caption on the picture "The Georgia State Library has been the SEEN of several armed robberies."   How's that new intern working out Maureen?  LOL



Sorry, Lee-- 40.8% of the GSU students are black (and 9.3% Hispanic). I doubt that any would think twice about seeing a black guy in the library, even at 8 am when the robberies occurred.


Or it could be an inside job among the custodians, who also would have access to the library buildings. About 10 years ago, there was a rash of thefts from faculty offices--that turned out to be committed by a custodian with a large trash barrel that disguised the loot taken from the offices.


It seems clear to me that the criminals have gotten into the library by using other staff/students' Panther cards to get through the library turnstiles--it's an inside job.


p.s.  For the record, the AJC has played yet another amusing round of "there are some other things we might write to help you identify these folks, but we're not going there".

The ajc's FULL description of some criminals follows.

Can anyone think of ANY other identifying feature that might help you identify these folks? ANY additional information besides height, shirt color and earrings that might prove helpful?

"The man is described as being in his early 50s. He is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 130 pounds, with no facial hair. He was last seen wearing a light blue, long-sleeve shirt.

The woman is described as a heavy-set female who was seen wearing large round earrings."



On the Georgia State campus at least, publishing a racial description wouldn't do much good, for white students number 40+%, black students 40+%, and Hispanic and Asian students 20+%--figures are approximate.  There's no majority student racial demographic there. And there are many adult students going to graduate school, taking night classes, etc.


I suppose readers are wasting our time hoping you'll post descriptions of the robbers.

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I call for Mark Becker to be fired or to step down immediately! Students and parents have been grossly and blatenlty mislead and committed a fraud upon by Becker and his cohorts that this is a Student and Staff only Library. This is the first time my daughter a Junior at Georgia State or myself and over twenty thousand other students and their parents are hearing that it has been an open public library for anyone off the street to access,

A fraud has been committed, and I hope that someone will help us file a Class action law suit for which my daughter and I have standing, I am sitting here preparing our income taxes, I have a Form 1098-T from Georgia State University for the Tuition and fees that my has been charged my daughter and paid by the two of us. It clearly states a charge of MLIB Library Facility Fee $5 Spring 2015 and MLIB Library Facility Fee $5 Fall 2015. Which is listed along with a list of other fees : ( I will just list the Fall since it is so lengthy)

ACHE Chemestry Lab Fee $50.00

AMCL Languages Lab Fee $5

MACT activity Fee $92.00

MATH Athletic Fee $ $277.00

MINT International Eduction $19.00

MLIB Library Facility Fee $5.00

MREC Recreation Fee $53.00

MSCF STudent Center/Facility Fee $36.00

MSUS Sustainability Fee $3.00

MTEC Technology Fee $ 85.00

TEMP USG Institution Fee $404.00

TUIT In-State Tuition $3,993.78

Term Total $ 5,022.78

Note none of the over $1,029 in fees including the library fee are including in the now only 81.69% of In state tuition Hope Scholarship which my 3.8 GPA STEM Major student receives.

Are people off the street allowed into the CHemistry labs? are they allowed into the Language labs?. I and my daughter would have a reasonable expectation that the library would only be open to students, faculty and staff since they were paying a specific fee for this. My daughter also told me she had to use her ID to gain access. Why were outsiders allowed free access yet I am charged?

I am sick of being Raped while Becker collects a 7 figure salary to build moments to himself and enrich connected Developers and Politicians. All at our children's expense.


@Another comment Outsiders have to have a card to get in.  It may be very easy to get a card; I don't know what you have to do as a non-student or staff member.

YOU are not charged $5--your daughter is.

I agree with you that those fees are INSANE.


@Wascatlady @Another comment 

Students are charged those fees because students as a group use those facilities.  Chemistry Lab, Language Lab, Student Center...etc. Check the fees of UGA, GT...they're similar.

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Who pays the tuition and fees? Your 21 year old daughter or the parent. The time has passed that a college student has earn enough in part-time and summer job earnings to pay even in-state college tuttiion, fees, books and living expenses. Even when the child has the Hope that as I pointed out now pays only $3,200 in tuition a semester. We had over $1,300 in Mandatory books last year. Living expenses,

So far I have kept my child debt free three years in. So I have paid, not just my child!

My brother-in law was writing out a $17,000 tuition check when I met him at his office for my nephew to go back to his private University in another state. I don't think that was a twenty year old writing that check, but a father writing the check from the parents account.

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Exactly not the general public. Not the man off the street. I expect those facilities to be secure. I went to an urban campus in DC. Folks off the street could just not walk into our Library. Nor could I decide hey I want to go into Georgetown or GW's literary. i had a work study job in our campus in the library, and I distinctly remember others having work study job as desk monitors checking ID for entry to the Library. Just as work study jobs were to check ID at every dorm, in the days before electronic locks and card readers.


It does not matter what the GSU Security does, students will still get robbed and assaulted if not at the Library then somewhere else, not until the APD starts a stop and search of suspicious people will they ever get a handle on crime in Atlanta because it's not a priority with the Mayor


@OriginalProf @Infraredguy Body language, dress, etc.  Any experienced police officer can do it. I know you want race to be a factor, and it inevitably will be - how many armed robberies are committed by whites, Asians, Hispanics and other minority races downtown?


Hard to see how Library North is "such an easy target." There are only two ways of accessing it: swiping one's ID through a turnstile at the entrance while two security officers watch, or crossing the passageways between the upper floors of Library North and Library South...which also has turnstile swiping at its entrance. I'm sure that GSU Security will find the broken link. But entering the libraries isn't like entering the classroom buildings, which open right onto the street.

I really do hope they continue public access though.  As it is, such access still requires a person to get a special campus ID to swipe through the library turnstiles.