Optimum Customers: Your Newsday access has been extended until Oct 1st. Enroll now to continue your access.

LEARN MORE
TODAY'S PAPER
56° Good Morning
56° Good Morning
Long IslandCrime

Massapequa man charged in Binghamton killing, authorities say

A Massapequa man was arrested and charged in the stabbing death of a Binghamton University student in a residence hall Sunday night, authorities said. (Credit: WBNG)

A Massapequa man attending Binghamton University is facing a murder charge in the stabbing death of another student, authorities said, the second deadly altercation on the upstate campus in a month involving a student from Long Island.

Michael M. Roque, 20, was arrested late Monday night and charged in connection with the fatal stabbing Sunday of Joao Souza, 19, a freshman engineering student.

State Police investigating the killing did not provide a motive Tuesday or additional details about what led up to it inside a campus residence building. Investigators believe Souza was targeted, according to a court complaint filed Monday in the nearby town of Vestal.

“The said defendant did intentionally stab Joao Souza multiple times with a knife causing his death,” the complaint said.

Roque is charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday night at the Broome County Central Arraignment facility, Binghamton University police said. Roque remained held without bail Tuesday at Broome County Jail, officials said

University officials canceled all classes on Monday and offered counseling services for anyone on the campus.

Students returned to classes on Tuesday at the sprawling campus after a daylong manhunt the day before ended with Roque in custody.

The arrest came about a month after police charged a Binghamton student with the strangling of a Westbury woman studying nursing at the university.

The body of Haley Anderson, 22, was found March 9 in the off-campus apartment of Orlando Tercero, also 22 and a nursing student. Tercero remains in custody on a murder charge in Anderson’s death.

In a message sent to students on Tuesday, Binghamton President Harvey Stenger touched on the relatively short time between the two deadly altercations and said the past month has not been easy for anyone connected to the campus.

“This has been a very difficult semester for me and the entire campus with two student deaths in just a few weeks,” Stenger wrote. “These tragedies shake us to the core and we grieve together.”

Reached by telephone, Roque’s oldest brother among his six siblings said the family is stunned by the allegations.

“He’s the nicest one of the family,” said Julio Roque, 22, of Massapequa. “He’s the one who makes everyone happy,” Roque said.

Roque’s parents traveled to Binghamton after getting a call from the university, Julio Roque said.

Julio Roque said his brother went to Syosset High School and ran track there.

Julio Roque said people he and his brother went to school with can’t believe Michael has been charged with such a crime. “Everyone from high school is saying they can’t believe it, and saying, ‘Please, tell me it’s not Michael.’ ”

Police took Michael Roque into custody after university officials on Monday released surveillance photos of the suspect, his head covered by a hoodie. A university tweet asked people to be on the lookout for a male in a dark, hooded Puma sweatshirt and dark pants.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. Monday, Binghamton University’s police chief tweeted that a suspect was in custody.

On campus Tuesday, Courtney Hafkin, a senior from New York City, acknowledged a pair of killings in recent weeks was jarring but she still felt safe.

“It’s definitely, ‘I can’t believe it happened here,’ and ‘What can we do to prevent that from happening in the future?’ ” Hafkin said. “It’s just so rare and shocking, and obviously it’s coincidental that two incidents occurred within relatively the same time span.”

With Lisa Irizarry

Latest Long Island News