Three 18-year-old girls, all students at Tzohar Seminary, were robbed at gunpoint around 8 p.m. Monday on Shady Avenue between Douglas Street and Phillips Avenue in Squirrel Hill.
According to seminary founder and director Amy Guterson, the girls were walking home from the school, located at 6404 Forbes Ave., when they heard a voice from behind them ordering them to drop their bags. At first the girls thought the order was a joke, but when they turned around, they saw a young male about 5 feet 6 inches tall pointing a gun at them.
The girls, who were not harmed, then dropped their purses and ran behind a house on Phillips Avenue and called their principal, Rabbi Aaron Herman, who instructed them to call police, Herman said.
Tzohar Seminary provides girls with a post-high school opportunity to study the arts in a religious Jewish environment. The three victims are new to the area.
The police “don’t want to make everyone paranoid,” said Herman, who spoke with the police as well. “It could be an isolated incident, or because it was a successful robbery, it could happen again.”
“[The girls] come here … and expect a real safe place to walk around, because that’s what we tell them,” said Guterson. “They are traumatized, but we are taking care of them.”
The perpetrator escaped with the girls’ purses, the contents of which included credit cards, money, house keys, cell phones, and one passport.
“There’s nothing the girls could have done differently,” said Guterson. “Thank God they’re safe. They have themselves, and everything else is replaceable.”
Seminary faculty are now driving the girls home in the evening, rather than having them walk, Herman said.
The Pittsburgh police were unable to provide any additional information prior to publication of this story.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.