To those who know Evan Sachs, the fact that the 23-year-old is charged with attacking an 8-year-old boy is beyond comprehension.
“I’m dumbfounded,” said John Pinto, a former school board member from Sachs’ hometown of Merrick who coached him in baseball up until the sixth grade.
“He was a great kid. He was so quiet. He always listened to whatever you had to tell him,” he recalled. “Very respectful.”
Teachers who knew Sachs at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick agreed. They described Sachs as a bright, hardworking student who was always willing to help out others. He was a creative writer and was particularly skilled with computers. His family, they said, is tight-knit and loving.
“You couldn’t ask for more supportive, more loving parents,” said Sal Salerno, an English and drama teacher who got to know Sachs when he and his friends started an Internet radio club at Calhoun. “The whole family is close.”
Sachs’ quirky and clever sense of humor was evident in the radio club, where he and his friends produced parodies of old radio shows and even a show called “Merrick Survivor,” based on the television series, said Doug Smestad, a Calhoun social studies teacher who was the club’s co-adviser.
The students started the club on their own in Sachs’ basement, according to a Newsday story in 2004. After deciding they needed more equipment, they got permission to start it as a club at the school. The club lasted for a while, but faded because of the limitations of the school district’s computer servers, Salerno said.
Sachs graduated around 2004, Salerno said, and went to Tulane University in New Orleans. But his college experience was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina. He wound up graduating from the University at Albany.
When Smestad bumped into Sachs recently, he noticed that the boy who had been a late bloomer in high school had matured. “He seemed happy,” he said. “He seemed like he was in a good place in his life.”
But Salerno, who also saw Sachs recently, thought he seemed a bit lost, trying to move on from college and still sorting out what he wanted to do with his life.
“It’s a tragic situation,” he said. “This is not an angry kid. There’s gotta be some other cause.”