Somerville resident charged for alleged assault of Tufts students at Zeta Psi

TUPD responds to a call on the night of May 9th, 2014. (Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily)

Three Tufts students were allegedly assaulted by a 23-year-old Somerville resident outside the Zeta Psi fraternity house during the early morning of Oct. 3. The suspect, Jorge Palacios, is now facing charges of home invasion, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, possessing a burglarious instrument and possession of a deadly weapon.

At a dangerousness hearing — in which the Commonwealth requests a judge to jail a defendant without bail for up to 90 days — held last FridayFirst Justice of the Somerville District Court Maurice Flynn ordered, among other contingencies, that Palacios stay away from all Tufts University properties. In spite of the Commonwealth’s request, Justice Flynn also set a $500 bail for Palacios, who is scheduled back in court for a hearing on Nov. 10. Court documents show that Assistant District Attorney Ryan Rall requested that the victims’ names be redacted from public documents and that a restraining order be issued against Palacios.

According to Zeta Psi’s president Ben Levy, Palacios attempted to enter Zeta Psi‘s registered party at approximately 1 a.m. on Oct. 3 through the side-door of the house, which was a designated exit rather than a point of entry.

Victim statements in court documents detailed that when a Zeta Psi brother manning the side-door turned Palacios away, the suspect allegedly punched the student in the face. A second Zeta Psi brother witnessed the altercation and confronted Palacios, at which point Palacios punched the second brother twice in the face before running toward Professors Row.

According to Levy, a third brother trained in mixed-martial arts and self-defense joined the two brothers that Palacios allegedly assaulted, intending to confront him.

“[The three brothers] go to find the kid [Palacios], not to hurt him or anything, but because they felt comfortable with someone who was trained in self-defense,” Levy said.

Levy added that, during the confrontation, the brothers attempted to restrain Palacios by grabbing his wrists, asking him who he was and if he was a Tufts student. When Palacios appeared to be reaching for his identification, the brothers released him, but Palacios instead punched one of the students in the mouth while holding needle-nose pliers, knocking out the student’s tooth.

The brothers released Palacios in surprise and the Somerville resident ran toward Sawyer Avenue, according to Levy and the victim statements. The brothers immediately flagged down Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) officers, who began a search for the alleged assailant.

Within five to 10 minutes, TUPD officers located Palacios on Raymond Avenue, at which point they questioned him and took him into custody, according to court documents. The Zeta Psi brothers involved in the incident subsequently identified Palacios as the man who assaulted them.

Police reported finding needle-nose pliers, wire strippers, an electrical tester and electrical tape in Palacios‘ backpack. Near the area where they found the suspect, police also discovered a knife wrapped with electrical tape that matched the tape found on Palacios.

According to an article in the Somerville Journal, Palacios has been arrested for violent assaults in the past. Boston police reports indicate that the Somerville resident was charged with assault and battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest last Halloween.

Levy said the whole incident was brief and that he thought the police performed quickly and professionally.

“From the time the kid entered [the fraternity house] to the time he was apprehended, it was probably 20 minutes at most,” he said.

Su McGlone, the director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, agreed that TUPD‘s response was quick and effective.

“Risk management is as much trying to prevent bad things from happening as it is knowing how to respond when something does happen,” McGlone told the Daily in an email. “From what I know about the situation, Zeta Psi responded exactly how they should have by calling TUPD.”

McGlone explained that, although no party safety policies have changed as a result of this incident, nor in light of double-stabbing that took place at the Delta Tau Delta (DTD) fraternity house on May 31, several new initiatives have been launched this semester to facilitate and support fraternities with their parties. In the past, fraternities were required to send up to 10 brothers to university-held general information sessions about party safety. This semester, Tufts has instead organized party host training sessions in individual fraternity houses.

“By going into their houses, we were able to have more specific dialogues with the organizations and train larger percentages of members,” McGlone said. “The new training model was well received by the chapters.”


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