Two students arrested in armed robbery

Joe Lord

Bardstown junior Justin Hamilton sat on the couch in Western Place Apartment 110 with girlfriend Nicole Thompson Sunday night. As they watched “Seinfeld,” two women knocked on the door and asked to see his roommate.

The two women went to Hopkinsville freshman Chris Higgins’ room, where there were already two guests. Hamilton locked the door.

He and Thompson had no idea that the women may soon be part of an armed robbery.

But 10 minutes later, the apartment came under a 15-minute hold-up that ended when four women, including two Western students, were arrested early yesterday in Poland Hall. Each was charged with armed robbery, among other crimes.

Hamilton recounted a horrifying chain of events.

Shortly after going into Higgins’ room, one of the women came out talking on a cell phone.

She went to the front door and unlocked it.

“I thought she was going to go outside and talk on the phone,” Hamilton said.

But she wasn’t.

A woman dressed in black walked into the apartment holding duct tape and a stun gun, Hamilton said. He asked what was going on, but the intruder said nothing.

There was yelling in Higgins’ room. Yet another woman walked into the apartment, this one wielding a shotgun, and it became apparent a robbery was unfolding.

The intruders taped the arms of Hamilton and Thompson, and covered their eyes, Hamilton said. Two of the people in Higgins’ room were likewise shackled with tape, according to a Bowling Green police report.

The intruders searched Higgins’ room.

“I was thinking, ‘Man, I can’t believe this is really happening,'” Hamilton said.

Higgins could not be reached for comment.

A check card and $300 cash were taken from the victims, said Officer Penny Bowles, a Bowling Green police spokeswoman.

As the women searched the apartment, someone else knocked on the front door, Hamilton said. When no one answered, that person apparently left. The two armed intruders soon made their exit.

Hamilton broke free from the tape and dialed 911. The two women that had earlier asked to see Higgins objected, Hamilton said.

“When I’m calling the police, the two girls that were there just bolted out the door,” he said.

Bowling Green police say they weren’t on the run for long. Less than two hours later, those two women and the armed intruders were arrested in Poland and charged with armed robbery of the five people in the apartment.

Ashley Nicole Moore, Sallie Trenice Palmer, Tiffany Renee Abernathy and Nicole Phillip Hite, all 18, were charged with first degree robbery and unlawful possession of a weapon.

The group was arrested in Moore’s room. She and Hite are Western students from Louisville.

Police report finding the debit card in Palmer’s pocket. They also found a stun gun and shotgun in Hite’s Jeep, parked near Poland.

Palmer was also charged with possession of crack cocaine and promoting contraband, a police report said.

The women were being held in Warren County Regional Jail yesterday.

Howard Bailey, dean of Student Life, said the university is investigating the incident and exploring possible sanctions. Suspension or expulsion of the arrested students could follow.

This isn’t the first incident at the apartment.

Hamilton said someone broke into the apartment a week ago, though nothing was stolen.

“I was always under the assumption that I was in the safest place in Bowling Green,” Hamilton said.