The Emerson College Police Department has forbidden a man from entering campus after he sold paintball tickets while pretending to be a college representative, according to a statement sent to the community by ECPD chief Robert Smith.
The man, identified as Andrew R. Colarusso, interrupted classes to sell $10 tickets to Randolph Paintball, a facility 17 miles south of Boston.
ECPD officers determined that although the vouchers are legitimate, they were sold through a third-party company, not Randolph Paintball.
On Feb. 19 at 11:39 a.m., ECPD received a call alerting them about Colarusso, said Lieutenant Bob Bousquet, one of the two officers who responded to the report in Walker Building.
Colarusso was cooperative, according to Bousquet, admitting he had been at the college the previous week, and that he had successfully sold tickets then.
Muna Salah Moushien, a senior journalism major, said Colarusso entered her broadcast journalism practicum on Feb. 13, claiming he was sent by what he called “Student Events.” Some of her classmates, she said, bought tickets with cash. When she said she didn’t have any cash, Colarusso told Salah Moushien he also took credit and debit cards through his phone.
“That’s when I thought that he was sketchy,” said Salah Moushien.
Not everyone in the class felt that way, though. Andrew Brightman, a senior journalism major, was also in the journalism practicum during Colarusso’s pitch. He said he bought a ticket using his debit card.
“I thought it was very cool; I wanted to paintball,” said Brightman.
The day after purchasing the ticket, he said his bank cancelled his card on suspicion of fraudulent activity.
“The guy was very believable,” said Brightman, adding that he is planning to redeem the tickets.
Bousquet said Colarusso looked like a typical college student. What helped officers identify him when they arrived at Walker, he said, was the description given by the caller.
“The person who called articulated he had very blue eyes,” said Bousquet.
Colarusso was approached by officers, who found him in a hallway outside of Walker room 230.
“We escorted him out off the property and gave him a trespass notice,” said Bousquet.
Junior Caroline Lacy, who works at Emerson’s Student Life, said on Feb. 17—two days before police were alerted of Colarusso’s presence—the office was notified that someone claiming to work for “Student Events” was going around classrooms selling tickets to a school-sponsored activity.
“There is no such thing as ‘Student Events,’” said Lacy, a performing arts major. “There’s Student Life and Student Activities.”
While Student Life does organize outings, Lacy said a paintball activity probably wouldn’t be sponsored because the nature of the game could pose a liability for the college.
During Lacy’s Wednesday morning class, Colarusso came in and began to talk.
“When you hear someone is working for the college, you feel comfortable,” said Lacy. “I got immediately defensive because I knew this wasn’t a thing.”
She said she confronted Colarusso and he left the classroom. Lacy posted a status on Facebook warning students about what Colarusso was doing, and encouraged other students to also share this on social media.
From March 10 through April 6, ECPD will pilot a program that will require students, faculty, and staff to tap their Emerson IDs 24/7 at security desks before entering any campus building.
Smith said, under the pilot program, an incident like this could be avoided.
“When we do the one-month trial program, one of the statistics we are going to track is how many people get turned away,” he said.
Colarusso told ECPD officers he has also visited other colleges and universities in the area, according to Smith.
Smith declined to provide a picture of Colarusso because he said Colarusso does not present a danger to the community.
Colarusso is a 5-foot-4-inch white male, approximately 135 pounds, with dark hair and very blue eyes.