By Genevieve Presley
The Amarillo Police Department was dispatched to the Amarillo College Washington Street Campus at 10:35 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22 after receiving a burglary call. The police said the suspect broke into Parcells Hall and was last seen inside the FirstBank Southwest Center.
The suspect was identified as 33-year-old James Balentine, who was located in the foyer of the gym carrying a weapon. He was then arrested and charged with criminal trespass with a deadly weapon. Balentine, who was taken into custody without incident, was also caught on camera in other buildings before his arrest.
“It’s crazy to think that the building that I spend most of my time in is vulnerable to something like that,” Kamden Slough, a graphic design major, said. I’d never really expect for an armed burglar to be anywhere near where I do my schoolwork every day.”
Officers from the Amarillo College Police Department said they work hard to ensure that students are safe on campus and they want everyone to be aware of their surroundings. “If you see something that doesn’t look or seem right, change your routine, go through different buildings and don’t hesitate to call the police department if you see anything that you feel uneasy about,” Dustin Owens, an ACPD police officer, said.” “We try to keep our eyes open and see as much as we can see, but students and faculty help us out.”
Assistant Content Producer at PBS Phoebe Terry said, “I’m not really afraid of crimes happening on campus. I think ACPD does a really good job in their role of community policing, and I’ve never felt scared on campus. Violent crime can happen anywhere though, so I think it is important to be aware of your surroundings and if anyone is acting in a way that makes you afraid, call the police.”
General Studies major Sydni Lovett said campus felt safe, except for at night and she suggested adding more lights in the parking lots. “I just make sure I look at my surroundings,” she said. “I also remember that there is a police department at Amarillo College and I always try to keep them in mind. If I have to go to class at night, I walk across the parking lot as fast as I can, make sure I go down the quickest route just so I’m not in danger.”
Owens said the Amarillo College Police Department did not have an officer on duty at the time of the call, so APD responded and are conducting an investigation.