Manhattan College Freshman Held at Knifepoint in Van Cortlandt Park

The Empire State Trail, where Manhattan College Freshman Patrick Fox was mugged. EMPIRESTATETRAIL.NY.GOV/COURTESY

By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Arts and Entertainment editor

It was a typical Wednesday for Manhattan College freshman Patrick Fox as he was going through his routine of taking a jog on the Empire State Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. Suddenly,  Fox noticed an unusual black dirt bike speed past him, the driver dressed from head to toe in black. In an instant, the driver turned around and seized hold of Fox’s neck, taking out a sharp object to his face, and threatening the student to give up his phone. 

“It was something sharp,” Fox said. “It was something he could have used as a weapon. So at that point, I gave the phone to him and he just stood, I stood there for a couple of seconds and he said, “keep moving” so I just kept going.”

After Fox complied and gave his phone to the mugger, he ran back towards the college, but before he reached campus, he found two individuals who helped him to call the police.

The NYPD reportedly chased an individual in Yonkers who fit the mugger’s description. While it is unknown if the individual was arrested, the NYPD is complying with Fox to help the investigation.

Fellow teammate and senior at Manhattan College, Brendan Chan, mentioned that this experience changed his perception of the Riverdale neighborhood.

“I wouldn’t expect anything like this to happen,” Chan said. “I got a little enraged just thinking ‘how could this happen?’ I know that this isn’t the safest neighborhood relatively, compared to the rest of the city. I think this is a safer area, being in Riverdale… Unfortunately, this happens, it can happen to anyone. So everyone should be careful.”

Fox’s father, John Fox, was shocked to hear his son’s story. John Fox said that Patrick’s mother was shaken up, but after all was said and done, the family still appreciated the Riverdale community. “My concern was for his safety. I didn’t expect it in the broad daylight like that,” Fox’s father said. “You’re gonna have some bad eggs everywhere. It stinks, but it’s just part of life. You just have to have a heightened awareness of what your surroundings are.”

Patrick Fox spoke about his perception of the Riverdale community since beginning his college career this past August.

“It’s definitely different,” said Fox. “I didn’t think of Van Cortlandt Park as the safest place ever, but I definitely think of it more cautiously now.” 

John Fox wanted people of the Riverdale community to learn a lesson from his son’s experience. He mentioned that it’s always safer to go out in groups or with another individual. 

“I’m most proud of how he handled it, he is safe now so thank God for that,” John Fox said. 

Peter DeCaro, director of Public Safety, had a message for Manhattan College students.

“Manhattan College is still located in one of the safest areas in both the Bronx and within all of NYC,” DeCaro wrote in a statement to The Quadrangle. “We maintain an excellent working relationship with the NYPD 50th Precinct, which provides police service to our campus. Staying safe is something we all need to be very focused on these days. Always remain alert and be aware of your surroundings, whether you are on campus or traveling off campus.”

DeCaro made a list of ways to keep yourself safe when going off campus including: keep your head up and don’t be preoccupied with cell phones or other electronic devices, try to avoid isolated areas, travel in well-lighted areas and avoid shortcuts (alleyways, parking lots, etc.), be aware of where campus blue-light emergency call boxes are located and if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe call 911. 

If you ever feel unsafe on or around campus you can contact the 24-hour emergency line for Public Safety, 718-862-7333, or if in danger, always call 911 first.