A Binghamton University student who has been charged in the fatal stabbing of a classmate in his dorm room pleaded not guilty on Monday.
A public defender representing Roque entered the plea on his behalf as Roque faced a second-degree murder charge. He is being held at the Broome County Sheriff’s Correctional Facility.
Police released pictures of Roque on Sunday after he was seen on surveillance footage leaving his dorm with his face partially hidden by a hooded sweatshirt. He was apprehended several hours later.
University police chief Timothy Faughnan and District Attorney Stephen Cornwell say investigators believe Roque specifically targeted Souza but would not provide additional details.
“Throughout the investigation, it became quickly evident to us that this was not a random act,” Faughnan said. “I have to leave it at that for now.”
Campus police responded to an assault call at the dormitory at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday and found Souza suffering from stab wounds. He was taken to Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City where he later died from his injuries.
Souza was a Brazilian-born exchange student studying engineering and played for the New York Soccer Club in Scarsdale.
“He’s probably the last person I would think of who would be confrontational or get into a fight,” said his coach Christian Gonzalez. “It’s really unimaginable what happened and we’re all heartbroken.”
Students Recall Stabbing, Unhappy with School’s Response
Students who live in Windham Hall say they were now allowed to leave the building. Binghamton also canceled classes on Monday.
“We heard that the building was on lockdown and we were pretty shook,” said student Matan Karudo. “This must be something serious, an ongoing threat.”
Daniel Siton, Karudo’s roommate, says he saw blood on the floor of the stairwell once they were allowed to leave the building.
Sophomore Therese Pitman, who is also a resident of Windham Hall, wrote a letter to Binghamton’s student-run newspaper, Pipe Dream, expressing her disappointment in the school’s reaction to the deadly stabbing.
“It was Sunday night and I was in Glenn G. Bartle Library working on an assignment when I started to receive texts from my friends who live in other buildings on campus asking: ‘Are you OK?’ ‘What is going on?’ How was it that I did not know what my friends were talking about?” wrote Pitman. “I responded quickly with, ‘Yes, I am OK. Why?’ The responses I received were horrifying: ‘There was a stabbing in your building.’ At about 11:12 p.m. my suitemate called me in hysterics, saying, ‘Someone was stabbed in our building, we locked our door, please do not come up here.’ This was all while they were watching out my bedroom window as Harpur’s Ferry students performed CPR on a bloody, unconscious body.”
Pitman goes on to write that a “vague” alert was sent out by the school at 11:14 p.m., simply stating, “Suspect fled on foot…avoid the area.” Pitman says she then checked her email, expecting to see an alert, but she had not received one.
“I am alone in the library. There is a suspect on the loose. I am scared. I cannot go back to my room. ‘What do I do?!,’ crosses my mind over and over again. The suspect could be here in the library. He could be outside,” she continues. “The PA system comes on in the library and says something like, ‘There has been a stabbing in Windham Hall; the suspect fled on foot. If you leave the library, be safe.’”
Pitman says she is saddened and disappointed by how the university handled the situation and did not have a proper plan in place.
Stabbing is Second Murder on BU Campus in Five Weeks
Souza’s murder comes just five weeks after another Binghamton student was murdered. Haley Anderson, a 22-year-old nursing student, was found dead in an off-campus apartment on March 9. Police say she was strangled.
The suspect, Orlando Tercero, was also a nursing student at the school and had briefly dated Anderson, according to The New York Times. Tercero allegedly fled to Nicaragua, where he has dual citizenship, before Anderson’s body was discovered.
The Broome County district attorney’s office is trying to have Tercero extradited back to the U.S. to stand trial.
University president Harvey Stenger released a statement on Monday addressing the proximity of the two murders.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time where violence is part of society, and, as a campus of 17,000+ students and several thousand faculty and staff, there are occasions where violence will intrude on our campus,” he wrote. “We will continue to focus on keeping ours a safe campus, with a fully empowered state law enforcement agency that works closely with the residential communities to protect life and property.”
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