A small choice can have a big impact. This proved true for sophomores Amy Gargiulo and Ellie Craig when their decision to take the elevator to the second floor of the Edge, instead of taking the stairs, had unexpected consequences.
“We decided to be lazy and go on the elevator because no one was around,” said Gargiulo, a university studies major who lives at the Edge.
Gargiulo normally takes the stairs because she lives one floor up from the lobby, but on Feb. 27, She said the elevator seemed to be a better choice.
As the elevator doors were about to close, a large 5-foot-10-inch man, who wore a green jacket and hid his face with a black hat, entered the elevator, as well.
“We asked him what floor he wanted, and he didn’t say anything. He just stood back and looked at us. We instantly became really scared,” Craig said.
Once they exited the elevator, the girls quickly walked toward Gargiulo’s room, but the unknown man followed closely behind.
Gargiulo had her key out, ready to enter her room, but as Craig went to shut the door behind her, the man threw his body between the door and the frame to prevent it from closing.
Gargiulo’s roommate, Shaina Abney, a sophomore architecture major, was sitting at her desk when the girls hurried in the door.
“I thought they were playing a joke on a friend. I was just sitting there starring at them for a full minute, and then I just saw the look on their faces,” Abney said. “And that’s when they were like, ‘Hurry, help us,’ and then that’s when I ran and started pushing on the door with them.”
Craig, seeing that the man was not backing away, tore the lid off her hot coffee and threw the coffee in his face.
“He flinched, and he kind of shuddered back, but then he just came back and stuck his foot in the door and was about to come in,” Craig said. “He never said a word, even after I threw the coffee in his face, no verbal reaction or anything like that.”
After the girls’ attempt at getting the man out of their door failed, Abney called Campus Police.
Gargiulo then called a friend from down the hall to come help them.
The man was still lodged between the door and frame, prompting Gargiulo to call for help.
Stephan Joseph, a freshman biology major, immediately came to their aid.
“I run down the hallway because she tells me to come to the room,” he said. “And I see their heads popping out, and I was like ‘what’s going on,’ and they start screaming ‘get him out,’ so I just got him out.”
The man did not say anything once Joseph wedged him out of the doorway. He then walked out the fire exit and onto Broad Street, where Campus Police eventually caught up with him.
Police apprehended the man and took him into questioning, where they determined he was mentally ill.
Campus Police then dropped him off at Episcopal Hospital on Lehigh Avenue. No charges were filed, according to Campus Safety Services.
Gargiulo filed an incident report at the Edge but has yet to hear back from management representatives. The Edge sends all of its incident reports to its headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Numerous phone calls and inquiries to the Edge went unanswered until management eventually declined to comment, citing they are not permitted to speak to the media.
Questions were forwarded to its corporate headquarters, but there was no response.
The Edge uses scan cards to identify residents of the building. Residents hold their cards up to the electronic scanner and continue to walk through the corridor after hearing a beep.
Security guards at the Edge don’t swipe the residents’ IDs as guards do at other on-campus residence halls. If residents have guests, they are to sign them in and give their guests’ IDs to the guard.
When hearing what had been done with the intruder, the girls said they were not satisfied with the result.
“This was just so scary. I mean, he was grabbing for my head,” Craig said. “He was reaching for my head and grabbing at my hair, so that made me think that he was going to hurt me. I would rather him just be locked up and not in a mental facility.”
When the girls returned to the Edge after being taken to the Campus Police station, they were met with an unexpected reaction from the security personnel who let the intruder pass easily into the residence.
“They laughingly told us to chill,” Craig said.
The girls said they were insulted by the lack of concern by the AlliedBarton security guard. Campus Police said the guard who was on duty during the incident was reprimanded and is being retrained.
However, Gargiulo said she saw the guard shortly after the incident, overlooking another guard in training.
“I don’t think that guy should be working because it’s not that hard to notice people walking by that don’t look like a student,” Gargiulo said. “We’re in North Philly. You need to do your job because if he really wanted to do something, he could have.”
Craig also has strong words for the Edge security and is calling for the guards to be fired.
“I feel like they should be fired. Every resident in that dorm puts their life in security’s hands. You do not really realize that until something like this happens,” Craig said. “What if he got in the room? What if he shot me?”
Gargiulo said she is still disturbed by the experience.
“I couldn’t sleep at night for a little bit. I’d be fine if Shaina was in the room, but if I was there alone, I would get really freaked out,” she said. “I would just be afraid the guy was going to be there.”
If there is anything Gargiulo and Craig take away from the incident, it is that they have to rely on themselves for their own safety.
“She pays more money than I do just so she can be more secure, and she cannot count on that, so I think something should be done by Temple,” Craig said. “It was a really traumatic experience. Now I know I really do have to watch my back.
“Ignorance is bliss. If nothing like that ever happens to you, you’re fine, but once it does, it makes you really scared.”
Brian Dzenis and Kellie Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.