Photo courtesy of Shawn Dowd of the Democrat and Chronicle
Shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, 20-year-old UR junior Jeffrey Bordeaux Jr. was fatally stabbed during a fight with another student at the Delta Upsilon house on the River Campus’s Fraternity Quadrangle.
UR undergraduate Daren Venable and Bordeaux had both attended a “Gangsta’s Paradise” themed party. Campus Security officers had performed a routine walk-through of the party at about 11 p.m. on Friday night, and nothing was found to be wrong.
The two students, who had known each other since their freshman years at UR, had engaged in a lengthy dispute about a mutual female friend, possibly an ex-girlfriend. The argument escalated at the party and turned into a brawl. Bordeaux was reportedly on the winning end of the fight when Venable suddenly pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed Bordeaux in the upper torso.
Police and paramedics, who were phoned during the fight, arrived at the scene at about 1:12 a.m. on Saturday. Security reached the scene within four minutes of receiving a call. An ambulance after 10 minutes and the Rochester Fire Department after 11, and found the wounded Bordeaux outside of the fraternity house.
Bordeaux was rushed by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital where physicians and emergency personnel unsuccessfully attempted to revive him. His time of death was reported to be an hour after the altercation. The first notices to the community were sent out about three hours after the incident, at 4:15 a.m. Bordeaux leaves behind his mother and father, a brother and three sisters.
Venable, who had no previous criminal record, was arrested at the scene and taken into custody by Rochester Police. The police are not searching for any other suspects and are in the midst of interviewing witnesses. They have deemed the incident isolated with no indication of any threat to others on the campus. UR Security is cooperating with the police as they lead the investigation.
Venable appeared in court on Jan. 17, where his lawyer, Brian DeCarolis, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder. Venable will contend to having acted in self-defense. He was remanded by City Court Judge Ellen Yacknin to the Monroe County Jail without bail and will return to City Court for the preliminary hearing at 11 a.m. on Jan. 20.
During Monday’s court session, Venable had a bandage above his left eye, which was swollen shut.
“I can tell you those injuries didn’t happen inside the Monroe County Jail,” DeCarolis said. “If you look at my client’s face and the injuries he sustained, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see that he was under attack in this scenario.”
DeCarolis will be working with attorney James Noble to represent Venable in the case.
About forty UR students and members of both Venable and Bordeaux’s families attended the brief court appearance. Venable and Bordeaux shared many of the same friends.
“This is not like him, he had to be provoked,” a shocked relative told the New York Post. “He’s a really nice kid.”
Both Bordeaux and Venable were outstanding students, well-liked and accomplished, and neither had any record of disciplinary problems at the University. Neither Bordeaux nor Venable were affiliated with the Delta Upsilon fraternity, but Venable is a member of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity.
UR junior Ibrahima Bah was shocked when receiving the news of the incident. “Jeffrey Bordeaux and DarenVenable were both such…wonderful people and it is really unfortunate that such a tragedy occurred,” he said.
“At a time like this, the best we can do is to pray for both families and support one another. We should live life to the fullest not only for us but for Jeffery and know that he will always live on in our hearts.”
On the evening of Jan. 18, the SA Government coordinated open walk-in hours with the SA Lawyer for individuals to ask questions regarding their rights and the legal process. All involved in the incident were encouraged to share their comments, which were confidential.
UR President Joel Seligman is distressed over the incident and feels for the mourning University community. “What I’m most interested in is very simple: I want to do all I can to make sure this is a safe campus,” Seligman said. “If there are lessons to be learned from this, if there are ways we can improve, I want to understand them so we can push through them. Sadly, in our society, these kinds of disputes happen. Race [and] gender often have nothing to do with it. What you’re seeing in some contexts is what can be categorized as an argument that just got out of hand. I really encourage people not to leap to judgments.”
Seligman has charged University General Counsel Sue Stewart to lead an internal review so as to prevent future acts of violence.
“It’s a little more complicated than it would otherwise be because there is a criminal proceeding at this point,” Seligman said. “So in asking Sue to look at this, she’ll have to coordinate with the appropriate officials in the criminal justice system.”
A vigil was held for Bordeaux at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Interfaith Chapel on the River Campus. The community gathering consisted of more than 500 people, who shared their grief over the loss.
Bordeaux was majoring in political science and was an active member of the University community. He was a member of the varsity track and field team and worked the maximum 20 hours a week to support his education. Bordeaux was awarded two scholarships from the Gilman Foundation and IES that would have supported his study in Shanghai, China, which was to start next month.
Bordeaux was a sprinter on the UR track and field team, and primarily competed in the 200-meter and 400-meter races. He was a member of the team during his first two years at UR, but he was not competing this season, due to his upcoming departure for China.
Director of track and field and coach, Sam Albert, was deeply saddened to hear of Jeffrey’s passing. “Our coaches and athletes thought very highly of Jeffrey because of his contributions on the track, but also because he possessed a tremendous work ethic and brought a wonderful attitude to practice everyday,” Albert said. “I think Jeffrey will probably be most remembered for his huge smile and even bigger heart — he reminded his friends and teammates not to take themselves too seriously and seemed to always find the joy in whatever he was doing. Jeffrey will be truly missed by his coaches and teammates.”
Having grown up in Rochester, Bordeaux attended Brighton schools through a Monroe BOCES program entitled “Urban-Suburban.” He was involved in track and field, football and basketball, and was part of a club called Natural Helpers. Graduating from Brighton High School in 2008, he was quoted in the Brighton yearbook as saying, “I’m not looking down, I just see no one above me: I’m Jeffery Bordeaux.”
Seligman met with the families of both Bordeaux and Venable following the incident. “I met first with Dorothy [Jeffrey’s mother] on Saturday, and it is hard to overstate the pain, the anguish, the shock she felt,” he said. “I was deeply touched at a certain moment in our conversation when she said, ‘It must be so hard on the mother of Daren. He was just a child too.’ I later met with Crystal, Daren’s mother. There was an enormous concern again for Dorothy. The two parents are just in anguishing pain.”
A memorial service is to be held for Bordeaux on Friday, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. at the Aenon Baptist Church. The University will offer transportation for undergraduate students, with buses loading at ITS at 10:05 a.m. and returning to campus after the service.
Bordeaux’s family requests that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations be made in Jeffrey’s name to the Tony Jordan Youth Sports Foundation.
Plans are in place to set up a scholarship fund in memory of Bordeaux.
The University Counseling Center is made available to students 24 hours a day, as is University Security.
The Interfaith Chapel and the Employee Assistance Program also offer support for grieving individuals.
Ostrander is a member of the class of 2013.