By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
PLYMOUTH — The circumstances surrounding last week's stabbings of three young men at a house rented by Plymouth State University students remains under investigation by police and has unsettled local residents.
Terrence Simmons, 19, of Newport, Rhode Island, who is not enrolled at PSU, was arrested in connection with the Oct. 16 incident and charged with three counts of first-degree assault as well as possession of cocaine, alprazolam, hash oil and marijuana.
Plymouth Police Lt. Michael Clark said if Simmons is able to post the $100,000 cash or corporate surety bail set Monday in the Plymouth Circuit Court, that he would likely be taken into custody by Rhode Island police. Simmons local arrest, Simmons said, violates the conditions of his bail in his home state after he was charged with two counts of larceny of a firearm and felony level manufacture, possession or delivery of one to five kilograms of marijuana.
Plymouth Fire Rescue was dispatched to 10 Winter St. at 4:06 a.m. Sunday for a medical aid called and were told to stage away from the scene and await the arrival of police.
When the fire department's duty officer learned there were multiple victims, he requested a second ambulance and then called for mutual aid to summon another ambulance and more emergency medical personnel from neighboring Ashland and Campton.
Plymouth Fire Chief Casino Clogston said department members quickly triaged the victims and loaded the most seriously injured into the first ambulance and rushed him to nearby Speare Hospital. After an initial assessment of the two remaining victims determined their wounds were less serious, both were taken by the second ambulance to the hospital, where they were treated and released.
One of the victims was admitted for treatment, and Lt. Clark said on Tuesday he did not know whether or not he had been released. He believes that two if not all three of those stabbed in the stomach and back, were enrolled at the university that has about 4,300 undergraduates.
The stabbing comes on the heels of other recent student shenanigans. On Oct. 9 about 3 p.m. police responded to 10 Pleasant Street to attempt to disperse some 300 students who had gathered to celebrate "Pirate Day." The residents of the address said the partiers were not welcome in their yard and asked that they be removed. Initial attempts to get the revelers to disperse prompted the crowd to move en masse to Winter Street, where they ignored commands to
New Hampshire State Police, were called to the scene as were members of New Hampshire Fish & Game Department and police officers from Holderness, Campton, Ashland and Bristol to assist Plymouth and University Police in breaking up what Plymouth Chief of Police Stephen Lefebvre called "an unlawful gathering."
Three people were arrested for disorderly conduct and a third was charged with resisting arrest or detention.
"Town-and-gown" tensions between the town and the university are nothing new. Deb Naro who now serves as executive director of Community Alliance for a Drug-Free Youth, recounted that back when she served in the Legislature in the wake of "mob-like" behavior at what was then known as Plymouth State College, the town asked local lawmakers to sponsor a bill to protect first responders. The bill, which became law, mandated the immediate expulsion of any
student who injures a first responder.
The latest campus incidents have occurred under the watch of Dr. Donald Brix, who became the 15th president of Plymouth State University on July 31, 2015, after Sara Jayne Steen stepped down after a nine-year tenure.
"With change comes some anxious times. We're working on a common goal and want to create a safe educational environment," said Chief Clogston.
In the not too distant past, Clogston recounted, his department was regularly called out to douse couches being burned in the street or dumpster fires. Teaming up with the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands to conduct regular patrols, working to educate students, coupled with issuing a few citations helped change the culture over
"We need to have everybody at the table and I hope that PSU will do that with the town," said Naro.
The school, Naro said, needs to engage the student body and raise their awareness of the risk of substance abuse.
"The students aren't thinking of the risk they're out having fun. It's a matter of communication and accountability, two important components to solving it," she said.
While Naro was shocked to learn about the stabbings from a student, she said she can't image being the parent who gets a pre-dawn telephone call informing them their son has been stabbed on campus. "I can't image the trauma these people experienced."
At first blush, the stabbings which reportedly occurred when the victims were trying to get Simmons to leave the house, has a drug connection – at least for the suspect, Plymouth police say they make more alcohol-related arrests than for drugs. Drug use is typically more clandestine, while alcohol is commonly consumed in public, Lt. Clark said.
Naro agrees that on any college campus alcohol is the most frequently abused substance and has a direct link to violence. A decreased perception of risk in marijuana use Naro believes is responsible for an increase in its use and points to a growing number of juveniles who end up in the local restorative justice program because of its abuse.
"Drugs and alcohol have a big impact on community and individual safety and this incident is a case in point," she concluded.
Simmons is scheduled to appear in Grafton County Superior Court for a probable cause hearing on Oct. 24.
Founded in 1871 as a teacher training school, Plymouth State University now has an enrollment of some 4,300 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate level students. Part of the New Hampshire University System it is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. (Bea Lewis Photo/For The Laconia Daily Sun)
This house rented by students attending Plymouth State University is where a Newport, Rhode Island, man allegedly stabbed three men in the early morning hours of Oct. 16. Terrence Simmons, 19, who is not enrolled at PSU, has been charged with three felony counts of first-degree assault and drug crimes. (Bea Lewis Photo/For The Laconia Daily Sun)
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