By Terri Ogan
---- — BEVERLY — Beverly police arrested a suspect last night linked to a series of attacks on Endicott College students that occurred early Sunday morning near the main campus.
Dillon Destefano, 19, of Riverdale, N.J., has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and battery. He is a student at the school.
One victim had sustained a broken eye socket, while another reported a jaw injury.
The three attacks happened between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m., according to an email from Endicott College President Richard Wylie sent to students and parents Monday afternoon.
“The important piece here, to us, is that as soon as it [the incident] happened, the student community rose up and gave us a lot of information,” said Wylie. “It was the students here that identified and gave us all the information that we needed to get to the Beverly police, get an arrest warrant, and have this young man arrested tonight.”
In the email Wylie said that because the attackers were unknown to the students, there was a possibility it was part of a growing national problem known as “the knockout game.”
“The object of this troubling ‘game’ is to knock an unsuspecting victim to the ground with a single punch,” Wylie said.
One male student reported that he was walking along a path toward the main campus when he was approached by two unidentified men. After passing the men on the path, one of them punched the victim in the face with a closed fist, breaking one of his eye sockets, according to Beverly police spokesman Officer Mike Boccuzzi.
A second victim reported a similar attack occurring in the area of the Hale Street campus, in which that victim sustained a jaw injury.
A third victim reported a similar assault to Endicott Campus Safety, suffering minor injuries.
“Whether it’s the ‘knockout game’ or not, no one has the right to go up to someone and try to knock them out,” Wylie said.
Subsequent to the attacks, campus officials sent out two alerts via text message and email to notify the college community of what police dubbed a “serious weekend assault.”
School officials also sent emails to parents and students Monday and last night to keep the community updated on the issue.
“Endicott takes great pride in having a safe and respectful campus and we’re saddened by the occurrences,” said Endicott College spokeswoman Joanne Waldner. “We’ve worked very closely with the campus community and have been able to get to the point where the police have been able to make an arrest, and we’re pleased that that has happened.”
Endicott has 24 security officers covering the campus which stretches across 235 acres of land, more than 270 security cameras and three cars on patrol in the area.
Following the attacks, the school beefed up security to prevent further issues and reminded students to follow safety procedures when walking on campus — for example, not walking alone at night.
Despite the incidents, Wylie said he takes pride in the students, faculty and staff that were able to come together to provide local authorities with the information they needed to make an arrest.
“It’s a very safe campus,” Wylie said. “Random acts are going to happen. We don’t want them, and we do everything to prevent them from happening.”
Terri Ogan can be reached at 978-338-2660, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @terriogan.