DAVIS (CBS13) — The search is on for the suspects who robbed a UC Davis professor at gunpoint, and now years of valuable scientific research data have been stolen.
“It’s a frightening situation,” said UC Davis student Hailey Adler.
It’s common to see people walking and bicycling on Russell Boulevard near the Highway 113 overpass, even at night. That’s why so many are concerned about an armed robbery that happened last Friday.
“You think of Davis as a pretty safe place, so you know, you wouldn’t assume something like this to happen, especially on a busy road right here,” said Adler.
It was around 11:30 p.m. when visiting professor Syed Fahad Shah was apparently just walking home. That walk soon took a horrific turn when a car with two passengers inside pulled up.
“Two male suspects exited the vehicle and asked him for his valuables which he did surrender,” said Lt. Art Camacho with Davis Police.
Davis police say Shah was robbed at gunpoint. The armed suspects, who had some sort of covering over their faces, stole his wallet with his rent money, cell phone, credit cards, his newly purchased laptop, and an external hard drive with years of scientific data.
“People don’t realize what they’re doing, they selfishly want the money but they don’t realize what you’re taking away from this person is years of work and research, and they’re losing all that,” said Adler.
A fellow colleague of Shah’s, Kathy Garvey, wrote in a Facebook blog: “He noticed a car, its emergency lights flashing, parked on the other side of the road … As he continued walking home, a man leaped from behind a tree trunk, pointed his gun at him and cocked it ‘to let me know it was real.'”
New to the country, Shah – a lecturer in the Department of Entomology – was not hurt. The suspects fled in a dark-colored sedan, launching a search by police.
This incident comes just one night after a similar armed robbery near the Mace Boulevard overpass.
“It’s a rare occurrence in the city of Davis and we’re taking both cases very seriously,” said Lt. Camacho.
As police search for the suspects, they are reminding everyone to be more vigilant of their surroundings and to travel in groups at night.
And while this professors life was spared, many of his colleagues and some students hope his life’s work is returned.
“Maybe if they try to retrieve his data, that would be the best thing,” said Adler.
Garvey says Shah had not yet backed up the contents of his hard drive.
“Ironically, while en route to the United States for his May 15 to October 30 research sabbatical on agriculturally important insects, someone stole his laptop at the Dubai airport,” said Garvey.
If you have any information about this incident, contact Davis police.