Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Laney student assaulted by unknown assailants

    By Daniel Roman

    Oakland police department monitors traffic for speeding at the 7th street crossing between the Laney campus and the student parking lot. (photo by Michelle Snider)

    Imagine it is your first day back at school after a joyous three-day weekend. You crushed it in class, you finished work, your spirits are high, and now you are making your way through the Laney College parking lot to get to your car, so you can return home and relax.

    As soon you open the passenger side door, two hooded men approach you from behind. One grabs you and covers your mouth, while the other repeatedly strikes you in the face and demands that you give them everything you possess. Do you comply? Do you try to get away? What do you do?

    Raul Solorio Vargas faced this exact predicament on the night of Sept. 4.

    Vargas, 21, is currently in his first semester at Laney College, majoring in political science. Born in Michoacán, Mexico, he moved to the United States when he was young and grew up in Milwaukie, OR. Since moving to California, he has lived in the Bay Area and attended various community colleges, including Foothill, San Joaquin Delta, and Berkeley City.

    Vargas plans to transfer to a university and eventually move on to law school.

    He also works at a restaurant in the East Bay and volunteers at the Pacific Center for Human Growth, which is a Berkeley LGBTQ center that provides mental health and wellness services.

    On the night of the assault, Vargas had just finished his shift at the Pacific Center and was walking from Lake Merritt BART station to the north end of the Laney College parking lot.

    Vargas’s car was parked there because he had class earlier that day. It was about 8:15 p.m. when the two hooded men attacked him.

    “They were trying to grab my backpack but I wouldn’t budge. I was trying to get them off me,” Vargas recalled. During the tussle, Vargas managed to throw his backpack into his car and lock the doors. That is when things intensified.

    “They struck me with something and I fell to the floor,” Vargas said.

    At that point, the men no longer had a hold of him and Vargas was able to run away and called 911. By then the assailants had smashed his car window, stolen his backpack, and fled toward the Civic Center Lodge motel.

    After the police arrived and made a report, they scouted the area for the attackers. They found Vargas’s backpack but his iPad and cash were missing.

    An ambulance also arrived at the scene. Although medics treated Vargas, his injuries only seemed to worsen. “It was nasty. I thought they had broken my nose. My face was numb, and I had scratches and swelling and my eye was bleeding,” Vargas said.

    Since the incident, Vargas has gone to the emergency room twice. To this day, he has not regained sensation in his right cheek.

    “I feel like I’m the last person that would ever happen to,” Vargas replied when asked if he had previously experienced a similar incident. Growing up, he was never exposed to that type of violence, since his family did not go out very much and preferred to remain within their own circle, he said. The aftermath of the incident has been harmful to Vargas’s sense of safety.

    “I can’t walk at night anymore,” he said. “I’m scared and I can’t do things like stay at the library late.” Vargas also decided to take a break from volunteering at the Pacific Center, since only evening shifts are currently available.

    Still, Vargas remains upbeat and says he encourages people to stay safe and aware, and be mindful of their surroundings.

    “Don’t let fear stop you from going to school,” he said.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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