Over summer break, a public security specialist was stabbed to death by a campus custodian who was later gunned down by University Police Department and Pomona Police Department officers.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. June 29 near the entrance to South Campus on Pomona Boulevard, Mark Manlapaz, 37, was found stabbed in his truck, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.

A short time later, employees at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies called University Police to report seeing custodian Rodney Lee Hunter Jr., 27, covered in blood and acting “erratically,” according to Sgt. Howard Cooper of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Cooper, Hunter attacked another employee at the Lyle Center. Details about that incident were not released.

When Pomona Police officers and University Police officers arrived at the Lyle Center, Hunter charged at police “without provocation,” said Cooper, and was shot by police.

Flowers were left near the entrance to Campus South as a memorial to public security specialist Mark Manlapaz. (Christian Manoukian | The Poly Post)

 

According to the Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau, “the murder weapon (knife) was recovered at the scene of the officer-involved shooting.”

Ten days after the incident, the bureau identified the suspect shot by police as Hunter.

“June 29, 2018, was one of the most tragic days in our university’s history,” President Soraya M. Coley said in a statement. “We continue to mourn the loss of life and for the family and friends of the deceased.”

The incident made national headlines and took place during a time of heightened sensitivity toward violent attacks on campus and officer-involved shootings.

According to Cooper, investigators have yet to find any relationship between Manlapaz and Hunter. Cooper said Hunter’s state of mind at the time of the attack is unknown and police are looking into Hunter’s medical history.

The Poly Post requested the autopsy reports of Manlapaz and Hunter from the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, who said the reports are “pending” and will be sent when completed.

According to a university release, Manlapaz, a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, worked for the school since 2006 and worked for the city of Claremont as a senior park ranger.

A vigil was held in remembrance of Manlapaz by the city of Claremont on July 5 and on July 12 Cal Poly Pomona held what President Coley described in a statement as a “moment together as our campus community continues the healing process.”

Security specialist Mark Manlapaz was honored at a vigil held in Claremont on July 5. (Courtesy of the California State University Employees Union)

Hunter worked at the school since December 2016 at Campus South, the Lyle Center and the Farm Store, according to manager of custodial services Humberto Arias. Arias described Hunter as “truly a nice guy,” and that he “never had any problems” with him.

Deborah Scheider is a project coordinator at the Lyle Center where Hunter worked. Scheider described Hunter’s actions as “contradictory to the Rodney I knew.”

Custodians Eduardo Carranza and Maria Vitela, who report to Arias at Custodial Services, said Hunter was, “friendly, happy, smart,” and a “good co-worker.”

The Poly Post filed a public records act request for a copy of the report from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which declined to release the report.

“To the extent such records do exist, these records are included in investigatory or security files of a local law enforcement agency. The records requested are example from disclosure, based on, but not limited to the following authorities: California Constitution, Article I, Section I; Government Code § 6254 (f) and Government Code Section § 6e55,” the homicide bureau said in a statement.

According to Lt. Joe Mendoza of the homicide bureau, the report is not being disclosed until the investigation is completed and a report is sent to the district attorney for review.

With students back on campus this week, Chief of University Police Dario Robinson said campus police is responding with “increased patrols.”

Security at student housing is under the jurisdiction of University Police and University Housing Services hire police student assistants who conduct patrols.

“We have reviewed our procedures and protocols since the incident, and our Chief of Police will present at the housing move-in orientations to address any concerns students or their parents have,” Executive Director of Housing Dr. Megan Stang said via email.

Director of Parking and Transportation Services Michael Biagi could not be reached for comment about any changes in parking enforcement policies in the aftermath of the incident.

The ongoing investigation is being handled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Staff writer Christian Manoukian contributed to this report.

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