University Employee Stabbed on Campus

Caleb Nelson and Davin Surin

An on-duty University of Massachusetts Boston employee was stabbed in the neck during a domestic dispute in a loading dock area between the Wheatley and McCormack academic buildings on October 31.

According to a Public Safety notification sent out later that afternoon, the victim was taken to a hospital-after several UMB staff intervened-where she was treated and released.

UMB dock overseer Jay Messana, who witnessed the assault, said the victim is lucky to be alive.

“If her boss [and several others] hadn’t intervened, she would probably be dead right now.”

An unidentified female cleaning contract employee was approached by her estranged husband-who drove to campus allegedly drunk and concealing a kitchen knife-after he called the employee to the loading service area one level below the campus plaza to talk to him.

Director of Communications at UMB DeWayne Lehman said the man later identified himself to police as Leonidas Cruz, 53.

According to Messana, the two started arguing at approximately 12:20 P.M., when Cruz tried to pull the employee toward his car, drawing her boss and several other contract employees to the scene.

Lehman said Cruz proceeded to stab the woman; his knife glancing off her collarbone before bystanders subdued him.

The incident happened in a matter of seconds, Messana said.

Campus police arrived quickly and arrested Cruz, who reportedly complained of chest pains and was sent to the hospital, according to Lehman.

A UMB student driving onto campus shortly after the incident said the situation was handled by the time she arrived.

“There were about seven or eight cop cars, and everything looked in control,” the student said. “They only stopped me for a second to let the ambulance pull out.”

Messana said the victim is doing well, having suffered only surface cuts and some bruising, but has not returned to work. There is no indication whether this incident will affect her employment at UMB, he said, but her coworkers look forward to having her back.

“Her boss has been really busy filling in for her,” Messana said.

Lehman said this incident-which is unrelated to a kitchen robbery on campus earlier this month-poses no additional threat at the school and security will not heighten as a result of it.

“Though we are not taking any measures in terms of additional security, UMB will use these events as an opportunity to review public security and ensure the best service for our students and faculty,” Lehman said.

Cruz has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, armed assault with intent to murder, and attempted kidnapping, Lehman said.

UMB Campus Police and the Boston Police Department handled the investigation jointly.