An 18-year-old SUNY New Paltz student faces kidnapping and assault charges after holding students hostage in Deyo Hall with a sword, police said.
Issac Doughty, a first-year student, held several students in a suite-style residence hall by brandishing a katana-style sword early Tuesday morning before authorities were able to apprehend him, police said.
“I’m certainly surprised something like this happened,” University Police Chief David Dugatkin said. “These kinds of things are rare on campuses.”
After police entered the common room, Doughty retreated into his bedroom with two other students, Dugatkin said.
Steve Candela, a second-year secondary education major who lives in Doughty’s suite, was in his own room when the incident occurred, but said he was in constant contact with those who were inside the bedroom and did not enter in an effort to keep the situation from getting worse.
“If anyone moved or approached [or] knocked on the door, his roommate said [Doughty] would probably snap and threaten their lives with the sword he had in possession,” Candela said.
After a short while, a student from inside the bedroom disarmed Doughty and exited holding the two-foot sword.
After some persuasion, Doughty exited the room and engaged the officer, who used a Taser and pepper spray to subdue him, Dugatkin said.
Candela said Doughty was “clearly somewhere else” during the encounter with the officers and acting out of his usual character.
“It was pretty scary watching four officers struggling to get him handcuffed, as Isaac had no idea what was going on and was freaking out. He wasn’t in his mind…He is not violent and he is actually very nice,” Candela said.
Dugatkin said it was too early to be certain if Doughty was under the influence of any hallucinogenic drugs while he was holding students hostage, but officers said they could tell he was not in a right state of mind.
Ashley Mendriski, a first-year creative writing major and self-described best friend of Doughty, said he had been on a “bad trip” for 48 hours prior to the encounter and was acting out of fear, not maliciousness.
“He was just really, really afraid,” Mendriski said. “He’d showed signs of suspicion regarding our plans to turn him over to the authorities. He didn’t understand what he was doing, and the previous two days of his life had been nothing but fear, pain and confusion.”
Students who lived across the hall from the suite said commotion and yelling could be heard from the hallway as well as Doughty punching doors and walls.
Deanna Baker, a third-year psychology major and Deyo resident, said she was concerned about the well-being of Doughty, but uneasy about leaving her room.
“The whole ordeal was overwhelming,” Baker said. “On one hand there’s a kid getting Tasered in my hallway, and I wanted to make sure he was alright. On the other hand he had a huge knife and might be tripping balls.”
Dugatkin said students involved in the incident, and who lived in Deyo Hall, were scared and nervous. Counseling has been offered to all students that desire it.
In lieu of the incident, Dugatkin said no physical changes will be made to policies regarding finding weapons, however he urges students to be aware and vigilant.
“Outside of putting everyone’s luggage through metal detectors, it is next to impossible to find these kinds of weapons,” Dugatkin said. “Students should say something if they see something.”
In SUNY New Paltz’s Student Handbook, nunchaku sticks, firearms, knives and air guns are specifically cited as illegal weapons, while in the Residence Life Handbook only firearms and knives are listed as prohibited items.
Deyo Hall Complex Director Shannon Calderon declined to comment on the incident, and Director of Residence Life Corinna Caracci could not be reached for comment.
In a campus-wide email issued on Feb. 7, SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said Doughty has been banned from campus pending his criminal investigation and possible judicial action.
Doughty was charged with kidnapping, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and assault in the second degree and was sent to Ulster County jail on $25,000 bail.