A SWAT team was called in to rescue two students from the University of Rochester, abducted under mysterious circumstances. A day later, their abductors’ motives still unclear.
The two Rochester students are now safe and sound, both with minor, non-life-threatening injuries. Four men have been implicated in the kidnapping so far and more arrests may be pending, People reported.
The abducted men, both 21 and seniors at the university, disappeared early Saturday evening, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Ani Okeke Ewo, of Aurora, Illinois, and Nicholas Kollias, of Northbrook, Illinois, were traveling together when they went missing. Both were riding together in a 2005 BMW SUV, NBC News added.
They were last seen on Saturday morning around 2 a.m. on a street near the University of Rochester. By 6:30 p.m., Ewo and Kollias were reported missing about 6:30 p.m. under “suspicious circumstances.” An alert was raised by Sunday evening, CBS News reported.
Police began an investigation to search for the students and, during that probe, learned that they’d been “forcibly abducted” and held against their will at a home.
Officers determined that the abducted youth had been taken to a home located only four miles from the campus, in the northeast part of the city. Chief Michael Ciminelli said his officers acted immediately.
“We developed a tactical plan and after observing certain activity in that location the determination was made, we authorized the SWAT team to do an entry and the Rochester Police department SWAT team did enter that location and in fact did a hostage rescue.”
No details were provided about their captivity or, if SWAT had to undertake a “hostage rescue,” what the nature of the hostage-takers demands were, if any.
After the authorities were able to locate the house in which the men had been held, the SWAT team swarmed in around 9:20 p.m. Sunday night, finding the men injured but otherwise okay.
“The two University of Rochester students who were wrongfully held, for many, many hours have been successfully recovered, are healthy, are alive,” said University President Joel Seligman. “There is a collective sense of relief tonight that all of us feel. This could have turned out in a very different way.”
One of the abducted men, and law enforcement didn’t specify which, had been shot in the leg before the rescue operation began, the Associated Press added.
After the abducted men were rescued, four people were arrested at or near the house, Ciminelli said. Police are working to figure out what charges to file against the kidnappers, but according to NBC News, these could include charges of assault and kidnapping.
According to WHEC, police haven’t yet identified the suspected kidnappers, and they expect to make more arrests.
Seligman had spoken to Ewo and Kollias‘ parents, and to the students themselves, who are recovering from their injuries in the hospital. According to Rochester First, the injury to the one man’s leg isn’t life-threatening, and the other’s unspecified injury was also classified as not severe.
Both students are expected to be okay.
Ciminelli said that the neither college nor the city is at risk and that, bizarrely, the kidnapping of these two students was a targeted attack. He didn’t provide any further details.
“I do want to point out this was a directed event and we have no information or evidence of any kind that this constituted a general threat to the (university) community, nor do we have any information or evidence that there is a threat or safety concern … at this point.”
Mayor Lovely A. Warren expressed gratitude to the police for the safe rescue of the abducted pair.
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