By Yaasmeen Piper
Last semester, ESU was hit with an increase in serious crime on campus.
The campus alerts included cases of burglaries, trespassing, theft, even armed robberies and attempted kidnapping.
In total, there was one report of sexual assault, four counts of stalking/ harassment, two counts of trespassing, three robberies and fifteen counts of theft of campus.
The incident that shook students the most was the robbery and murder of Domino’s Pizza driver Richard LaBar.
According to a Monroe County District Attorney press release, LaBar, 58, was shot with a .410 gauge shotgun above his right eye on Dec. 11 around 1 a.m.
LaBar fled in an ambulance in critical condition. After finding no brain activity, his life support was pulled only a few days after.
Israel Berrios, 17, Carolina Carmona 30, and Salvador Roberts, 21, were arrested and charged with orchestrating the robbery and murder of LaBar.
Students, staff and faculty received a crime alert due to the proximity to campus though no students were involved.
Berrios, Carmona and Roberts are facing a series of charges including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery and inflict serious bodily harm.
Carmona, the alleged girlfriend of Berrios, is facing additional charges of reckless endangerment, and corruption of minors.
“It’s such a tragedy because he was such a good guy,” said junior Taylor Planick. Planick has been working for Domino’s since mid August.
“He had a really big smile, and his personality was just as big. He was a goofball. He liked when we got free pizza.”
In those few months, she grew close with Labar who she called Rich or, as their manager often called him, “Richie-Rich.”
When they both worked late shifts, he would give her a ride back to campus. He did this at least once a week. They would discuss the highs and lows of their days.
Planick said LaBar was a big sports fan. His favorite team was the Eagles.
“[After he died] it was different. The environment was different,” she said. “One day I was making a pizza and thinking ‘where is Rich? He hasn’t come in for awhile.’ The thought just went out of my head. Then it popped back up as the store was slowing down and I was like ‘oh. He’s really never coming back.’”
According to Planick, the day of LaBar’s funeral, Domino’s temporarily closed so all employees could attend.
The following day, the entire time’s pay went to his family to help with funeral costs.
“I was really happy when I heard that,” she said, “because Rich deserved it.”
Carmona and Roberts were denied bail and are being held in Monroe County Prison awaiting their conviction. Berrios’s records were not released to the public.
ESU Chief of Police William Parrish says campus will see a decrease in crime since their arrest.
Based on the area of some of the crimes, Campus Police and Stroud Area Regional Police have reason to believe Berrios was involved in the string of serious burglaries and robberies on campus and are currently working on the investigation.
“We’re currently working with a district attorney’s office and the PA state police and there’s indications that this young man was involved in several of the serious crimes that were causing us concern,” Parrish said.
With Berrios, Carmona and Roberts now in custody, Parrish said he believes campus will be a lot different this semester.
“I feel confident that the campus will be a lot safer this spring because of their arrest and the pending investigation.”
Still, ESU hired additional security and police officers to ensure campus safety.
Campus police added two security guards last January and two police officers, one in November and one in early January.
Currently, they are working with Human Resources to post for two more police officers.
In addition, they are working with Information Technology or I.T, to enhance video footage and take full advantage of technology.
Campus Police and I.T are working on a video camera software that can email or text officers when their motion sensors pick up movement in certain areas and improve search technology where you can narrow down to look for a specific individual and jump to different cameras.
Parrish still encourages students and staff to report any activity that seems suspicious.
“When you have two officers driving, and the chief, it’s nothing compared to the thousands of eyes of the students have walking around, even staff and maintenance workers,” he said. “A lot of times they know when something is out of place a lot quicker than we do. So, getting that information to us to check it out is very important.”
According to Parrish there have been no serious crimes reported on campus so far.
“I know parents are still concerned and I want to make sure that they know that we are doing our best to protect our students, their children, while they’re away,” he said. “Those incidents that occured this fall were disturbing. We take responsibility for the safety of our campus very seriously. I think that this campus has an approach that we want to be know for safety and not just an educational program.”
For more information on Campus Police visit esu.edu/police or contact them at (570) 422-3064.
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