Press-Republican

December 12, 2013

Police: Two arrested after frat-house assault

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Two SUNY Plattsburgh students are charged with felony assault, accused of fracturing the jaw of another student outside the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity house.

“We anticipate further arrests,” said Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot.

As well, SUNY Plattsburgh ordered that the fraternity cease all activities, and its national headquarters has suspended the chapter, Michelle Ouellette, director of public relations and publications, said Wednesday afternoon.

TWO CHARGED

Nicholas C. Simmons, 20, and Luis M. Munoz, 21, both Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) fraternity members, assaulted fellow student Daniel Colflesh, 18, outside the frat house at 147 Brinkerhoff St. in the early morning hours of Nov. 23, Racicot said.

Sometime around 1:30 or 2 a.m., Colflesh arrived at the AXP frat house and, from the sidewalk, asked some men on the porch of the residence to speak with the person he believed to have sexually assaulted a friend earlier that night, Racicot said.

At around that time, the young woman and her friends were filing an incident report with SUNY Plattsburgh University Police, he said.

’MISTAKEN LOCATION’

While the sexual assault is still under investigation, Racicot said, authorities have determined it did not happen at the AXP house.

“This girl was not sure where she was at” when the alleged incident happened, he said. “We were able to tell that she was not at 147 Brinkerhoff St.”

’TRIED TO GET AWAY’

On Nov. 23, as Colflesh stood on the sidewalk, some men, including Simmons and Munoz, came off the porch and converged on him, Racicot said.

“He tried to get away. They followed him into the street.”

The group of men starting punching and kicking Colflesh, breaking his jaw and knocking out two of his bottom teeth, the chief said.

They then went through his pockets, and Munoz stole an electronic cigarette, Lt. Pat Rascoe said, an act considered a robbery because it coincided with an assault.

Rascoe said Colflesh was under treatment by both a doctor and a dentist for his injuries.

’SECOND FIGHT’

Soon after Colflesh was assaulted, a group of eight or so other SUNY Plattsburgh students arrived, and a brawl broke out on the porch between them and fraternity members, police said.

Racicot said it was reported that some of the people in that fight had weapons, including a hammer, a knife, a baseball bat and a hockey stick.

Each group claimed the other one possessed the weapons, he said.

No one sustained any serious injuries caused by weapons, Racicot said, and no one who participated in the second fight is likely to be arrested.

VIDEO FOOTAGE

Police received multiple calls reporting the fights, the chief said.

Officers responded to find students scattering, Rascoe said.

“It was over by the time we were pulling up.”

Later that day, with a search warrant in hand, City Police collected evidence at the frat house.

Racicot said police have video footage that has helped them investigate the incidents.

“(It) is consistent with what the victim (Colflesh) is saying.”

’NOT IN JAIL’

Simmons was taken into custody Monday, and Munoz was arrested Tuesday.

Both men were charged with second-degree assault, and Munoz incurred a second charge of third-degree robbery, also a felony.

Both were arraigned in Plattsburgh City Court.

Racicot didn’t know whether either was jailed following his court appearance, but neither Simmons nor Munoz had been incarcerated in the Clinton County Jail after the alleged incident, according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department.

The chief said he could not say what charges would be filed should City Police make any more arrests.

John Mastronardo, the AXP fraternity president, did not return a message left by the Press-Republican on Wednesday.

OTHER INCIDENTS

Racicot said City Police have dealt with the AXP fraternity before.

“We have had issues at this location before ... but that doesn’t mean that it’s the same people.”

Students come and go from the organization, he said, with some graduating and others moving into the house.

While members of fraternities do cause trouble in the City of Plattsburgh from time to time, Racicot said that’s not typical for those who participate in Greek life.

“We’re only dealing with a very small population of the overall Greek organizations.”

“There’s a lot of things that fraternities and sororities do that are very positive,” he said. “They do a lot of community service.”

’RECOGNITION IN JEOPARDY’

SUNY Plattsburgh just recently received files on the investigation and has begun to review them, Ouellette said; AXP activities were ordered halted as of Nov. 26. 

“Definitely, their (school) recognition is in jeopardy at this point.”

Neither of the two men had been suspended from school as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Some of whatever consequences that happen as a result of this can’t happen until after (winter) break probably,” Ouellette said. “But there is likely to be (college) judicial action.”

AWAITING LAB RESULTS

The alleged sexual assault, which involved unwanted sexual contact but not rape, remained under investigation, Racicot said.

Police are awaiting the results of lab work to confirm whether the woman was drugged, he said.

’SADDENED’

College officials expressed their disappointment with the alleged criminal activity, saying that it takes away from the positive efforts of many students.

“Acts of violence, especially acts of violence against women, run counter to the mission and values of SUNY Plattsburgh,” the college said.

“Thousands of our students work hard to enhance both our college and the surrounding community. They volunteer their time and treasure in support of local and national nonprofits. They shovel driveways, rake leaves, mentor children.

“We are saddened to see the thoughtless actions of a few eclipse those efforts and will continue to work to educate our student body to be thoughtful, productive members of the community.”

“If and when our students fall short, we will continue to take appropriate action.”

— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.