, Salem, MA

October 7, 2006

Seven charged, 2 stabbed, in fight at Salem State

By Julie Manganis and Tom Dalton

SALEM - Two men were stabbed in a fight that broke out during a dance at Salem State College early yesterday, and police have charged seven people, including both stabbing victims, with creating a melee as police tried to break up the fight.

Some 500 people - some of them students and some of them with no connection to the school - were attending a dance sponsored by the Multicultural Student Association in the Harrington gymnasium on the South Campus at around midnight when two men began fighting. The fight was apparently over a girl, according to a police report.

Police are now trying to determine who stabbed the two men - something prosecutor Elizabeth Satelmajer said was complicated by the fact that the victims have not agreed to speak with investigators. Campus police are now examining a knife found by a college maintenance worker yesterday morning.

Salem police Capt. Brian Gilligan, who was working a paid detail at the dance, said a group of 10 to 15 people began to join in the fight and then began moving toward him in the darkened gymnasium.

Gilligan tried to separate the two men fighting but was outnumbered. One of the men, later identified as Carlens Rigaud, 23, of Hyde Park, repeatedly hit the officer as he called for backup.

Eventually, Gilligan and a campus police officer were able to remove two of the men, Carlin Rigaud, who is the twin brother of Carlens Rigaud, and David Johnson, 24, of Stoughton, a half-brother of the Rigauds.

Police quickly discovered that Johnson had been stabbed in the abdomen.

Police then arrested Carlens Rigaud, who had been stabbed in the arm and buttocks. As they put him in custody, a fourth man, Claudel Dauphin, 23, of Everett, began yelling, "Get the (expletive) away from my boy" at officers, leading to his arrest, the prosecutor said.

Two other men, Michael Vaughn, 19, of Roxbury and Edwin Samedy, 24, of Norwood, were also arrested by Salem police as they interfered with officers trying to disperse the crowd.

The seventh man, Pablo Espiritusanto, 18, of Roslindale, a Salem State student, was arrested by campus police after he allegedly rode his bicycle directly at an officer, striking him, a prosecutor said. As he was taken into custody, he allegedly kicked the officers.

Police later learned that Dauphin and Carlens Rigaud were both out on bail in cases involving firearms and cocaine, while Carlin Rigaud was also out on bail for a drug distribution charge.

'Out of control'

Six of the men, including Carlens Rigaud and Johnson, who were still wearing their hospital gowns, were arraigned in Salem District Court on charges of failing to disperse and disorderly conduct.

Lawyers for the men argued that none of them had been charged with the stabbings and that prosecutors would have a hard time proving the charges against them.

"I don't believe they can sustain their burden (of proof) on either charge," said John Morris, who represented Carlens Rigaud. He said his client had simply been going to the aid of his half-brother, Johnson, when he was also stabbed.

Carlin Riguad's lawyer, Benjamin Richard, echoed that, saying his client was just trying to help his brothers.

Johnson's lawyer, David Gavegnano, said his client acted in self-defense.

"My client's a victim," Gavegnano said. "I wonder if the police are going to look for the people who stabbed my client. Someone started this fight. We don't know who started this fight."

But Satelmajer, the prosecutor, argued that all of the men contributed to creating a situation that was "extreme, disruptive and out of control."

The situation was so dangerous that the five police officers already there to supervise the dance - three campus officers and two Salem police officers - had to call for backup not only from the Salem police but from Lynn and Swampscott.

The judge revoked the past bail of the Rigaud brothers and Dauphin, and also set bail at $1,500 cash for all three.

Espiritusanto was ordered held on $1,000 bail. Johnson was released on $250 bail yesterday. Vaughn remains free on a personal surety. Samedy did not show up for his arraignment yesterday and is now wanted on a warrant.

The judge ordered all of them to stay at least 500 feet from the Salem State College campus.

College response

Espiritusanto, a freshman at the college, has been temporarily suspended from the school. His lawyer, Carol Monaco, said he will lose a semester's tuition and is concerned he will lose his financial aid as a result of the incident.

The other men were not students. It is unclear what brought them to the campus, but police say the event was advertised on a Boston radio station.

This was an "open event," college spokeswoman Karen Cady said, meaning nonstudents from outside the campus were allowed to attend. She did not know the number of non-Salem State students in the gym.

The detail officers checked for weapons at the door with a wand and a metal detector, standard procedures at dances open to nonstudents, she said. Nonstudents were required to show a photo identification.

As a result of the brawl and stabbings, Salem State will decide whether to allow nonstudents at future college events.

"The main priority, first and foremost, is to ensure the safety of our student community," Cady said. "And because of incidents like this, we will be forced to review the current events policy and see what are our options are as far as limiting people not affiliated with the college."

The men are all due back in court on Nov. 3 for a pretrial conference.