No sign of NYU dorm intruder despite exhaustive 8-hour search

Several residents of the Third Avenue North residence hall saw the intruder in dorm rooms, the dining hall and a lounge.

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Carmo Moniz

Campus Safety officers and residence hall staff discuss the search for the intruder at Third North. (Carmo Moniz for WSN)

Lauren Ashe, Deputy News Editor

Over eight hours, police and NYU security combed through every floor of the university’s Third Avenue North residence hall after a man was reported to have entered the complex through a loading dock on Wednesday afternoon. As of 11 p.m., the search was called off. The intruder was never found.

The unidentified intruder was first spotted by a resident at around 2:30 p.m, but that resident did not make a report. Authorities were only called more than an hour later, when a different resident made a report. Several students described the intruder as a tall Black male in his 30s, wearing all black clothing and tennis shoes. Teams of Campus Safety officers and Residence Life staff completed a search of every room and space at the residence hall, but the search was inconclusive. Students are now allowed to leave their rooms, but have been asked to remain vigilant.

“We take this intrusion seriously,” said John Beckman, an NYU spokesperson, at the conclusion of the search. “The Department of Campus Safety will be undertaking a review of this incident to see what lessons can be learned and applied to prevent any repeats.”

The man entered NYU first-year Cris Alvarez’s room when she was asleep, which she described as “violating.” She shares the suite with Stern first-year Angel Murray, and the pair said that the incident left them feeling very unsafe in the building.

“He was just in my doorway,” Murray said. “He came into my room a bit, and he just stared at me. When he left my room, I got out of my bed, and I went to follow him because he didn’t say anything. Then I saw him go to Cris’ door and open it and look through. He just looked at me when he left and was like, ‘Oh, wrong room.’”

[Why do intruders keep getting into NYU dorms? Tell us what you think.]

Beckman had earlier told WSN what the university knew about the incident: A non-university-affiliated individual had entered Third North, and may have accessed the building through a loading dock during garbage collection. He said that a student saw the intruder and alerted staff, after which Campus Safety Officers were dispatched to the location and the NYPD was called to the scene.

“Teams of Campus Safety officers and Residence Life staff are sweeping the dorm, going door-to-door and searching common hallways and areas,” Beckman said at 7:30 p.m. “So far, the individual, who is described as a male in a hoodie and wearing a mask, has not been located. The search continues, and we have directed students in Third North via texts and emails to stay in their rooms and lock their doors.”

First-year Vasily Belousov said that he saw the intruder in the Third North dining hall at around 2:30 p.m., but did not report the sighting because he was unsure whether the individual was affiliated with the university. 

“He looked lost, and he was kind of zoned out,” Belousov said. “He did not look at anybody, so I got a little bit worried about that because he looked significantly older than everybody. I thought that he could work here or be someone’s parent.” 

Campus Safety officers knocked on Belousov’s door to speak with him five separate times in the afternoon and early evening, looking for the intruder.

“They inspected the floor and they inspected the bathrooms,” Belousov said. “Every time they came in, they asked the same questions: ‘Did you see a suspicious person?’ and, ‘What did they look like?’”

Third North residents were sent a text message and email instructing them to shelter in place at 5:54 p.m. in a text and email alert from Campus Safety, but some residents told WSN that they were not informed of the security breach at the time.

Kaysha Pressley, a Tisch senior and resident assistant in Third North, entered her floor during the late afternoon and noticed that a Campus Safety officer was looking for the intruder. She said she was scared for her residents, who have had several problems with their keys. She reported that residence hall leadership told her not to inform residents about the intruder. 

“It’s a lack of communication,” Pressley said. “Building leadership doesn’t want to [tell them], so that they don’t get an abundant amount of calls from parents, along with residents, who are really scared and anxious.”

Earlier this month, another man evaded security at Alumni Hall and Coral Tower, in two related incidents that were reported two hours apart. A resident said they were not taken seriously when they told Campus Safety officers they may have come in contact with the intruder inside the building.

An intruder entered Rubin Hall on at least three occasions last April as well. The man stayed in the dorm’s lounges overnight twice, according to several residents. The intruder came in contact with several students inside the residence hall and followed some female students as they exited the building. Fountain Walker, the head of Campus Safety, later said that the department’s response to the intruder fell short

Another incident involving an intruder was reported at Lafayette Hall in November 2021, where a non-university affiliated individual harassed two residents in their room. Security took over an hour to arrive.

Campus Safety officers will maintain an increased presence at Third North. Residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to NYU by calling 212-998-2222 immediately, or to 911.

Correction, Nov. 16 at 8:55 p.m.: Cris Alvarez’s name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this article.

This story was last updated at 11:10 p.m. on Nov. 16. Ania Keenan, Carmo Moniz and Derek Kamakanaaloha Soong contributed reporting. Contact Lauren Ashe at [email protected]