Tijuana students board an Ecoruta bus bound for Valle de las Palmas (image from skyscrapercity.com)
  • Tijuana students board an Ecoruta bus bound for Valle de las Palmas (image from skyscrapercity.com)
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Three armed thieves boarded a Tijuana city bus bound for an outlying campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California on Tuesday, May 21, and robbed about 50 terrified passengers, most of them students.

The 8:30 a.m. robbery on the far eastern edges of the city provoked panic among the passengers, according to the Tijuana daily El Mexicano. “Some people were crying, trembling with fear," one UABC student told the newspaper. "I have been robbed before, so I just tried to breathe in more air, which helped calm me down. I tried to observe as much as I could so I could tell the police."

Some passengers screamed and others began to cry, prompting one of the robbers to fire a handgun into the air, which ricocheted off a bus window, according to El Mexicano. One woman, said the newspaper, suffered a "nervous crisis" that caused her blood pressure to drop, requiring assistance from a fireman who happened to be onboard.

The thieves, disguising themselves with hooded sweaters and wielding knives, boarded the UABC-bound bus above Boulevard Insurgentes at the Azteca Ramp, according to police. Most of the passengers were students headed for morning classes at the Valle de Las Palmas campus, which opened in 2009 as an engineering, technology, and pre-med satellite of the main campus in Tijuana.

One thief went to the back of the bus, another to the middle, and a third to the front, according to press accounts. Each came prepared with an empty backpack into which they could load their ill-gotten gain. They took any valuable object they could find from the passengers, including cell phones, iPads, iPods, laptop computers, and wallets, El Sol de Tijuana reported. They also robbed the driver of the fares he had collected so far that morning.

The robbers got off the bus in the area of Colonia El Refugio, after which the crime was immediately reported, prompting an unsuccessful search of the neighborhood, police said.

The robbery was the second such incident in which UABC students have been robbed while headed to the Valle de Las Palmas campus, according to El Sol. Regular police patrols in the crime-ridden area — one of the most insecure neighborhoods of the city — is practically non-existent, the newspaper said.

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