Intoxicated intruder harasses students in suite

A group of Piano Row residents on the fourth floor were eating chicken wings at around 12:40 a.m. when an unidentified man  asked for one. The students shared their grub, assuming he was just a fellow freshman joining in on the hang out session. 

The unidentified male ate two wings before moving towards 17-year-old Katherine Gardiner, who was visiting a friend at Emerson.

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“He introduced himself and said ‘you’re a beauty,’” Gardiner said in a phone interview with the Beacon, from her home in Los Angeles, Calif., “Then he started saying inappropriate things like ‘Can I have you; can I be on top?’”

Gardiner left and went into another room. She said she told James Bass, who lives in the suite, about her interaction with the strange man, who had identified himself as “Ryan.” Bass, a writing for film and television major, went back to the living room where his friends were eating. He said everything seemed okay but when he approached “Ryan” the room fell silent.

When Bass learned that no one in the room knew “Ryan,” he asked the stranger to leave.

Sam Bencivengo, who was among those eating wings, said “Ryan” left but returned about 10 minutes later, knocking on the door claiming he left his wallet. At that time, Bass’s suite-mate Ray Bellinger was entering the room.

“[Ray] was walking in and the guy tried to get in,” said Bencivengo, a freshman film production major. “We looked everywhere and there was no wallet. He was violent, tried shoving the door open, but we pushed it close.”

That’s when Bass said he called campus police.

Sergeant Joseph Linscott and Officer Israel Rivera met “Ryan” as he stepped out of the Piano Row elevators. Chief George Noonan, who was made aware of the situation early Monday, described the intruder as a 5-foot-11 white male with blonde hair and blue eyes. Noonan said the man appeared to be intoxicated.  Noonan said “Ryan” was let go because he did not commit an actual crime, but said the issue immediately concerned him.

“On a scale of one to 10 on what could go wrong on a college campus, this would be number one,” Noonan said, his office table covered with reports on the situation. “But as for the outcome, this is the best way it could happen. Nobody was hurt.”

After reviewing security tapes from that night, Noonan said that the 25-year-old was leaning against the barrier across the security desk as a group of 10 to 12 students tapped their identification cards to enter the building.

“He seemed calm, looking at people, reaching for his pockets, and staring at the security tap for whatever reason,” Noonan said, after spending the previous 24 hours at work investigating. “Then the Securitas officer got up and left, and they actually brushed shoulders with each other as she was leaving and he went in. So now, he’s in the building.”

Noonan said “Ryan” was in the dormitory for approximately 27 minutes, according to the tapes. He said just three minutes before he entered, Officers Linscott and Rivera left Piano Row after a regular checkup, allowing them to return to the scene after the call was made within minutes.

Noonan said that he plans to speak with the Securitas officer, who will no longer be working at Emerson College and will be placed elsewhere by her supervisor.

“The tape shows the Securitas officer making a bad decision leaving her post,” Noonan said. “She was gone for about a minute, but you know what? A lot can happen in one minute.”

Noonan said he met with the Securitas account manager for Emerson, and set a list of 10 goals to further campus security. The first goal includes choosing the top eight Securitas officers to remain at post in the dormitories, as well as a few backup. Noonan said these officers would have to attend extra training for the security of the residents.

Noonan said that other measures include showing all officers that they are being taped, conduct audits a few times each semester, and give all workers an Emerson swipe card that they have to tap when they come to and leave their post.

In his almost six years at Emerson, Noonan said this is third time someone has been able to infiltrate a college building.