The Death of Madison Brooks: LSU's troubled history from break-ins to car-jackings

The Death of Madison Brooks: LSU's troubled history from break-ins to car-jackings
Madison Brook, 19, was allegedly raped in a car in the early hours of January 15 (LSU Alpha Phi/Facebook)

This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers' discretion advised

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: The tragic death of 19-year-old Louisiana State University (LSU) Madison Brooks, who was allegedly raped in a car on January 15, sent shockwaves through campus while state regulators suspended Reggie’s bar's liquor license, where Brooks was served alcohol and the place where she met her alleged rapists before being hit and killed by a car, as previously reported. The four suspects, Kaivon Washington, 18, and a 17-year-old whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile, Everett Lee, 28, and Casen Carver, 18, have been charged with third-degree rape and principle to third-degree rape, meaning they were present but did not take part in the alleged crime.

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Brooks' death is now serving as a wake-up call about rape culture. However, this is not the first crime that left the LSU community disturbed. From a student being shot during an attempted robbery to kidnapping, the violent crime cases have always concerned the students.

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22 car break-ins in 2021

The number of car break-ins reported on campus was 22, as per a report in December 2021 by KATC. Before that, it was 10 a year on average. One of the students, Jack Tomeny, whose backpack was stolen from the backseat along with the loose change he had in the car, said, "I was honestly a little surprised that there’s people brave enough to go and check random people’s cars." However, he did not report the break-in to LSU police, saying that he did not see what they could do at that point and that he decided to “kind of just cut my losses.” Another student, Laisha Mendez, found that someone had broken her car’s passenger seat window in September 2021 while she was inside a bar in Tigerland, a popular hangout spot for students. The glove compartment was open, and old checks were found scattered over the seat, reports KATC. She reported the crime to the Baton Rouge Police Department and later learned that the police arrested two men suspected of committing that crime and 17 other car-related incidents. “They told me that they broke into other cars, so it made me feel not alone--like it happened to other people, too,” said Mendez.

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Student shot during attempted robbery 

A student was shot during an attempted robbery near West Laville Hall on August 19, 2022. Police identified the suspect as 19-year-old Clarence Hypolite, who goes by the nickname Playboyclare, and was arrested on charges of attempted armed robbery and attempted murder. As per WBRZ, Hypolite and the victim knew each other. The victim told campus police that he saw Hypolite while walking to meet with friends. According to an affidavit, Hypolite charged his phone in the victim’s friend’s vehicle before pointing a gun at the victim, who was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Students kidnapped 

On August 23, 2022, an LSU student was kidnapped for a brief period on Aster Street near Cypress Hall. Following which, LSU sent an emergency text and email to students notifying them of the incident. University spokesperson Ernie Ballard said at that time, "The victim has been offered campus resources through the LSU CARE team and other similar units on campus," stated Reveille. Again on August 25, 2022, an attempted kidnapping took place near Acadian Hall when an LSU student met with a delivery driver, Lazariel Archilla, after ordering food from a delivery service. The driver was charged with simple battery and simple assault based on evidence obtained in the case, reports WBRZ.

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'Terrified for me and my friends'

Jonathan Beale, a student at LSU, said in 2022 the lack of communication about the kidnapping worries him. "I don't know a whole lot about what happened, but it's a little alarming that I don't know a whole lot of what happened. I mean, they sent out emails, but you'd think there would be more caution," Beale said, as quoted by WBRZ. Jennifer Cook, a leadership and human resources development sophomore, said, as per Reveille, "I’m terrified for me and my friends’ safety. We live on campus and I’m worried that one night one of us won’t come home. It’s a terrifying way to live.”

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