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Student Beaten on Road Near Library

MUPD Fails to Alert Campus Community of Attack

default article imageAn unidentified student was beaten by a group of three individuals on Cedar Avenue near Norwood Avenue on Sunday, January 29 at approximately 3:28 am, according to Bill McElrath, Chief of Monmouth University Police.

Captain Larry Mihlon of the West Long Branch Police Department said it was unclear if there was a motive, but he did say that it appeared to be a crime of opportunity.

According to the police report, the victim was returning from walking home friends from a party when he was jumped by the attackers, causing some injuries. Following the assault, the victim appeared to be confused and a little dazed, as he had problems recalling details of the incident.

A junior student, who asked to remain anonymous, witnessed the crime.

“There was a car parked outside the library, a maroon Impala possibly. In between the car and the sidewalk, there was a kid laying in the middle of the street lifeless with two guys on him, basically beating the crap out of him,” said the witness. “There was a third person standing in the middle of the street with a knife watching the beating. My friends and I pulled up alongside them and yelled to try and get them to stop.”

Following this, the witness called the MUPD to report the incident that was going on right outside their office in front of the library. MUPD arrived at the scene and notified the West Long Branch Police Department, who handled the situation from that point forward. Later, the witness called MUPD to check the status of the situation. He said that he was not given any information. “I asked them what was going on, and they were like,‘Why? Are you involved in this in any way?’ And I said, ‘No, but they (perpetrators) kind of saw my face and I screamed at them.’ [MUPD] blew me off.”

McElrath said MUPD did not notify the campus community because the incident occurred out of their jurisdiction. He claimed, “The incident occurred off campus and was solved by the arrest of the suspect by the West Long Branch Police Department.”

The victim was not stabbed, but was taken by ambulance to Monmouth Medical Center for treatment. According to the witness, the victim’s head was hit on the pavement several times during the attack. Captain Mihlon said the attack caused some injury, not serious enough to be hospitalized for the night, but still requiring some medical attention.

The West Long Branch Police Department arrested one individual, Shawn Barber, 19, of Long Branch on assault charges. Barber’s bail was set at $5,000 by municipal court judge Louis Garippo and Barber has been sent to Monmouth County Jail as he could not post bail, according to Mihlon. The police are currently not looking for the other two attackers and according to Mihlon, the assault charge will be faced solely by Barber. 

The witness said one of the worst things about the incident was seeing several fellow students walk right past the scene, doing nothing to help. “People walked right around him as if he was nothing but a traffic cone,” said the anonymous student.

The eyewitness also raised the idea that West Long Branch may generally be a safe town, but the campus is in the vicinity of some not-so-safe towns, as well. “Keep in mind our school is surrounded by Asbury Park, Neptune and Long Branch, which aren’t exactly the safest towns. They (MUPD) probably wanted to keep the idea that the University is safe, which could be why students were not notified,” he said.

No emails or text messages were sent by University administration alerting students that this kind of attack had occurred literally one step from campus, although to officials this appeared to be a random act of violence.

Greg Cenicola, a junior criminal justice major, believes MUPD handled the situation well. “I believe, though, that information like this is public knowledge, as are any crimes that normal police departments deal with,” Cenicola said. “I would have liked to have been notified, do not get me wrong, but being notified would not have changed my daily life. I would have still went to class and carried on my day. Being notified would have just made me pay more attention to my surroundings for probably a couple of days until I forgot about it.”

The eyewitness explained that students can often be seen walking on and around the campus. “The police know kids walking down the path are going down Norwood or Cedar to party and the cops should patrol these walkways and streets. MUPD picks a parking lot and they sit in it on a Friday or Saturday night. Students are going to go out, so police should keep an eye out on these walkways for students’ safety,” said the eyewitness.

McElrath claims that MUPD’s jurisdiction is solely on campus; however, he points out that they do work with the surrounding townships on certain occasions. “University Police have patrolled certain areas in Long Branch that have been identified as ‘problematic’ in an attempt to encourage ‘responsible socializing’ and ‘being a good neighbor.’ When conducted, the program involves the Long Branch Police as well. It is a proactive attempt to prevent incidents from escalating into situations involving police enforcement. Ultimately, if enforcement action were to be taken, the Long Branch Police Department would be the lead agency.”

McElrath continued to say that incidents happening in areas surrounding the campus, or roadways not actually within the campus (Cedar Ave., Norwood Ave., Larchwood Ave., etc.) would be investigated by the municipality in which it took place.

According to the eyewitness, University students should be notified about what is going on in the streets surrounding campus, especially assaults. “[Students] are not guaranteed safety once they leave campus…students are at risk,” he said.  Had he not alerted MUPD, the witness believes the assault could have turned into a stabbing or worse.