"I didn't believe it when I first heard it," Kathryn Susman, an 18-year-old engineering student from Hereford, Maryland, said Monday.
The robbery occurred Friday afternoon. Authorities said Greg Hogan, 19, handed a note to a teller at a Wachovia Bank branch, saying he had a gun and wanted money.
Hogan, the son of a Baptist minister, was picked up at his social fraternity house later that evening and charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
Police said he got away with $2,871.
One of his frat brothers, Patrick Thornton, described Hogan as "very energetic," the sort of student who would cheer on the college football team wearing body paint.
"It's by far the most interesting story we've ever encountered here," added Thornton, editor of The Brown and White, the student newspaper.
The university's student Senate president, Kip Wallen, drove Hogan to the bank, but had no idea that Hogan allegedly intended to rob it, said Wallen's lawyer, Karl Longenbach. Wallen has not been charged.
"I believe once all the facts are reviewed and uncovered, the conclusion will be reached that he (Wallen) had in fact nothing to do with the crimes with which the other individual is charged," Longenbach said.
Police told The Morning Call of Allentown that Hogan admitted robbing the bank. He was released Saturday after posting $100,000 bond, a prison spokesman said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 31.
Hogan did not immediately return a telephone message left Monday by The Associated Press on his cellular telephone voicemail.
Hogan graduated in 2004 from the University School, an upscale private school in suburban Cleveland. His father, the Rev. Gregory J. Hogan, is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Barberton in Barberton, Ohio, and has served as a city councilman in Seven Hills, Ohio.
Hogan also was a cellist in the university's orchestra.
"You have to think of how much he had going for him, class president, studying at Lehigh," said Steve A. Juisti, 19, a sophomore civil engineering student from Upper Darby. "You have to question his reasoning, obviously. The big question is why."
When a student is charged with a crime, the university's Office of Student Conduct, a disciplinary committee of teachers, staff and students, decides what action to take regarding the student's status at the school, said Dina Silver, a school spokeswoman. Sanctions can range from a warning to expulsion.