Marist College dad murder: New York Marriott guest recounts shocking morning, appeals for more campus security

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A Pennsylvania man who was visiting his Marist College freshman daughter over the weekend and staying in the Marriott Courtyard hotel where a homeless felon allegedly gunned down another dad Sunday said it could’ve happened to anyone and that he has new concerns about his daughter’s safety.

“You feel so bad for that family,” John Bucsek told Fox News Digital Wednesday.  “Never do you think of something like that happening.”

Bucsek was a guest at the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Poughkeepsie, New York, over the weekend when a gunman opened fire in the lobby, fatally striking another Marist parent. 

“I was far enough away where I didn’t hear bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” he said. “I just heard this commotion.”

MARIST COLLEGE PARENT MURDER: SUSPECT IN HOTEL SHOOTING LINKED TO ANOTHER HIGH-PROFILE KILLING

Poughkeepsie police arrested Roy Johnson Jr., 35, and Devin Taylor, 26, at the scene. The victim, Paul Kutz, 53, was rushed to a hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

“There’s been a few shootings in Poughkeepsie lately, and we were really unaware of that,” Bucsek said. “We know it as a little town on the river.”

Photos show Paul Kutz with his family in an image from 2013.

Photos show Paul Kutz with his family in an image from 2013.
(Facebook/Paul Kutz; Instagram)

His daughter’s dorm, he said, is on the edge of campus, and the hotel shooting gave him cause for concern.

“There’s no security there, and you know how kids are – they forget the room key; they prop the door open; most people leave their dorm rooms unlocked during the day,” he said. “They need more security there.”

For her part, he said, his daughter and her friends in the building have been scared for the past few days and had trouble sleeping.

Kutz, of Northport, New York, was among many Marist parents in town for Family Weekend.

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Split image shows mugshot photos for Roy Johnson Jr. and Devin Taylor, the men accused in the Oct. 2, 2022 shooting in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Split image shows mugshot photos for Roy Johnson Jr. and Devin Taylor, the men accused in the Oct. 2, 2022 shooting in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
(Dutchess County Jail)

Many had been concerned it would rain, but Bucsek said just a day before the shooting, the skies cleared up and they had a beautiful day on campus.

“We’re on a Facebook

with parents and everybody was like, ‘Oh, this weekend it’s going to rain. It’s going to be a monsoon,'” he said. “And by the grace of God, it didn’t rain on Saturday, and everybody had a great time.”

The campus was beautiful, he said, with a tight-knit feel despite belonging to a large school.

Bucsek, his wife and their Pomeranian were staying directly beneath the two suspects, he said, and he believes he may have seen Kutz the morning before, getting coffee in the lobby.

“Now that I saw his picture, I could’ve sworn I saw him the day before in the lobby,” he said. “I’m normally in the lobby at that time. I just decided [Sunday] morning to stay in my room and read.”

As he was doing that, he said, he heard a commotion and his dog grew frantic, barking and jumping around. Within minutes, he said, police had rushed over to the hotel. He heard of a possible shooting through word of mouth minutes before he saw the SWAT team in the parking lot, he said.

Police vehicles outside the Courtyard by Marriott seen on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, where a Paul Kutz was shot and killed on Sunday.

Police vehicles outside the Courtyard by Marriott seen on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, where a Paul Kutz was shot and killed on Sunday.
(Credit: The Image Direct for Fox News Digital.)

His other daughter – not the Marist freshman – was on the phone with a friend who happened to be in town visiting her own sister for family weekend and was staying at the Marriott Courtyard hotel. She said she heard gunshots. Bucsek’s daughter called him after the conversation, and said she’d heard of a hotel shooting in the area.

“I said, ‘Well that explains the noise that I heard,’ and that’s how I found out,” he said. 

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By 10 a.m., the hotel called and told him to shelter in place because a potential third suspect could still be at large. Police quickly determined there were only two, but hotel guests continued to hunker down until the hotel provided shuttles bound for the campus or another Marriott location in town. 

General view of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.

General view of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.
(The Image Direct for Fox News Digital)

Police say Johnson was present at another homicide August 9, when Darren Villani, 28, was fatally shot in his car at the intersection of Mansion Street and Bement Avenue, and he had been eluding questioning in that case before Kutz’s slaying. He also had an open warrant out of Georgia on drug and firearms charges and previously spent years in a New York state prison for robbery and burglary. Taylor also received a prior prison sentence for burglary.

Johnson was ordered held without bail. Taylor was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon for carrying a loaded rifle with no serial number and ordered held on $1 million bond, court records show. Authorities found bomb-making materials and manuals in the hotel room the men were sharing, officials said.

Image shows mugshot photo for Roy Johnson, who was arrested in connection with the Oct. 2, 2022, shooting at a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Marriott

Image shows mugshot photo for Roy Johnson, who was arrested in connection with the Oct. 2, 2022, shooting at a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Marriott
(Dutchess County Jail)

Kutz, of Northport, Long Island, owned an accounting and financial planning firm. He was a father of three whose youngest is a freshman at Marist. Neighbors recalled him as “one of the best” and praised his character and dedication to his family.

For Bucsek – he wants to know why the suspects were even staying in the hotel to begin with.

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“How did those people get into the hotel? Who paid for it?” he asked. “How did the bad guys get a room when it was likely sold out by June 1?”

Bucsek and his wife, Noral Jemali, said they paid more than $630 for two nights in the hotel. Their stay was refunded after the incident. On a less busy night, rooms there can cost as little as $148.

Jemali said she was afraid of getting stuck in an older hotel after a bad experience during college orientation and booked the Marriott as soon as she confirmed the date for family weekend, back in April.

“I told myself once we know parents weekend dates I had to quickly book the best place in town,” she said. “Unfortunately it ended up to be the worst.”

If they’d known in advance the hotel was housing homeless people, Bucsek said, he wouldn’t have minded.

“But if they told me that there were homeless people there that were also suspects on a murder last month, there’s no way,” he said. “There’s no way I would’ve stayed in the hotel.”

Marriott has not responded to multiple Fox News Digital requests for comment.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones, Rebecca Rosenberg and Ashley Papa contributed to this report.



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