Why were those two University of Rochester students kidnapped?

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli called the kidnapping a targeted attack against the two University of Rochester seniors, who were rescued by a SWAT team on Sunday night.

Rochester Police Department
Ani Okeke Ewo, 21, and Nicholas Kollias, 21, both seniors at the University of Rochester were rescued by a SWAT team Sunday night after being abducted near campus.

Four people were taken into custody Sunday night after a SWAT team rescued two college students that had been allegedly abducted near the University of Rochester. 

One of the students, whom police have not yet identified, was shot in the leg prior to authorities arriving at the house where the pair were being held, about four miles from campus, according to authorities.

Ani Okeke Ewo of Aurora, Illinois, and Nicholas Kollias of Northbrook, Illinois, both seniors, were reported missing around 6:30 p.m. Saturday under “suspicious circumstances,” The Democrat & Chronicle reports. They were last seen near campus around 2 a.m. Saturday.

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli told a press conference Sunday that in the course of the investigation police found out the students had been “forcibly abducted” and were being held at 22 Harvest St. in northeast Rochester, about four miles from the university. At that time a SWAT team rescue was assembled, ChiefCiminelli said.

At about 9:20 p.m., the SWAT team entered the home and rescued the men. Mr. Ewo and Mr. Kollias were taken to an area hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening, said Ciminelli.

NBC station WHEC reports Ciminelli called the abduction an attack specifically on the two students. The motive remains unclear. 

Both students are on the 2015 University of Rochester Yellowjackets football roster.

"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 of Rochester community, nor do we have any information or evidence that there is a threat or safety concern to the University of Rochester community at this point," Ciminelli said.

Four suspects were taken into custody in or near the house, according to the police chief. Charges have not been filed but they are likely to face kidnapping and assault charges, and more arrests may be made.

University President Joel Seligman described "a collective sense of relief," in an interview with NBC News, adding, "This could have turned out in a very different way."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren praised the police in a statement, "As our city's Mayor and also as a mother I am grateful that our police officers helped make the ultimate outcome of tonight's situation a good one."

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.