National News

Arrest Made After Binghamton Stabbing, the Second Student Death in 5 Weeks

Posted April 16, 2018 11:53 p.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2018 11:57 p.m. EDT

A suspect is in custody after a freshman was fatally stabbed at Binghamton University. It was the second killing of a student there in five weeks, leaving the campus tense and grieving.

The victim, Joao Souza, 19, was attacked in his dormitory suite around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Timothy Faughnan, the university’s police chief, said at a news conference Monday morning that emergency responders had found Souza “seriously injured from what appeared to be stab wounds from a knife” and taken him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Surveillance footage from the dorm, Windham Hall, showed a man in dark pants and a dark hooded sweatshirt, believed to be the attacker. Late Monday, university and police officials announced that Michael M. Roque, 20, had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Roque, a student at Binghamton, has pleaded not guilty and is being represented by a public defender.

At a news conference, Faughnan and District Attorney Stephen Cornwell of Broome County, New York, said investigators believed that the attacker had targeted Souza deliberately, but would not describe what had led them to that conclusion.

“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.”

The death of Souza, an engineering student who graduated from Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, New York, last year, came just five weeks after another Binghamton student was killed. Haley Anderson, a 22-year-old nursing student, was found dead in an off-campus residence on March 9 after being strangled.

Though the proximity of the killings rattled students at Binghamton, part of the State University of New York system, there was no indication that they were related. A different suspect was identified in the first case: Orlando Tercero, a fellow nursing student whom the police said Anderson had briefly dated. The Press & Sun-Bulletin, a newspaper in Binghamton, reported last month that Tercero had been accused of slashing Anderson’s tires in September.

Tercero fled to Nicaragua, where he has dual citizenship, before Anderson’s body was found, and U.S. officials are seeking his extradition.

Harvey G. Stenger, the university president, told reporters that the two killings in such proximity were “definitely the hardest thing that I’ve been through since I’ve been here,” adding, “You can understand how difficult it must be for parents and for friends.”

In a statement Monday, Stenger sought to reassure students and their parents.

“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.”