A University of Maryland, Eastern Shore student was stabbed to death this weekend during a fight as the campus celebrated homecoming — plunging another state school into grief after an apparent murder-suicide left two students dead in College Park less than a week ago.
Maryland State Police identified the UMES student as Edmond A. St. Clair, a 21-year-old junior biology major from Severn who graduated from Laurel High School in 2010. Friends, teachers and family members said he excelled in college, dreamed of becoming a doctor or surgeon and had a passion for producing reggae-style music.
Police say St. Clair was riding in a car about 9 p.m. Saturday with his brother and another man, who were visiting for homecoming weekend, through the Princess Anne campus when they came across a group of several people walking in the street and a fight broke out. St. Clair was stabbed with a weapon police have not yet identified.
St. Clair's brother, Isaiah St. Clair, and their longtime friend Tre Hardy were driving to pick up Chinese food when three men stood in the road and wouldn't move, Isaiah St. Clair said in an interview. He said Edmond St. Clair told him and Hardy to wait in the Honda while he went to talk to the men.
The next thing he realized, Isaiah St. Clair said, his brother was stabbed in the heart. He said he knelt next to his brother on the sidewalk and held the wound while Hardy ran to flag down a campus police officer. Isaiah St. Clair and Hardy said the men who stabbed Edmond lingered in the area before walking away from the crime scene.
"He said, 'Someone just stabbed me,'" Isaiah St. Clair. "I was like, 'Stop playing.' He was like, 'Yeah, look.' He showed me his hand. 'I got stabbed in my heart.'
"Everything happened so fast," Isaiah St. Clair said. "By the time we got out of the car, he was already stabbed. I took off my jacket and put it over him and put my hand on his chest until the ambulance came. I was asking, 'Is anybody going to help?'"
Isaiah St. Clair said he and Hardy were taken to the police station for questioning, where, he said, they stayed until 8 a.m. Sunday and did not learn until then that Edmond St. Clair had died from his injuries.
Police said they are seeking three suspects, whom they identified only as black men in their late teens or early 20s.
The rare bursts of violence involving students at the campuses 130 miles apart sent shock waves across the state. Asked whether she had been worried about her son in the wake of the incident near the University of Maryland, College Park, St. Clair's mother, Marina Fletcher, said she had feared for her son's safety.
UMES spokesman Bill Robinson said in an email that the campus had increased security — including backup from the Maryland State Police — for a week of homecoming events that included a musical performance from Grammy-nominated rapper 2 Chainz and men's and women's basketball games. Robinson declined to answer whether that security was still in place Saturday night.
At a town hall meeting held Sunday for UMES officials to address the incident with students, a university administrator said there were no plans to increase or otherwise change security at the campus, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury. University president Juliette B. Bell urged students not to walk alone at night but was satisfied with the security that was in place, the newspaper reported.
"We still believe that the campus is safe," Bell told students, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury.
Hardy and Isaiah St. Clair said Edmond was very popular at college, where he was known by his DJ name, "Trini Wes," a combination of his native country of Trinidad and the name of his late father, Wes St. Clair. They said he composed music of various genres.
Edmond St. Clair was raised in Trinidad and moved to the United States after his father died about six years ago, according to Fletcher. She said her son was an honor roll student in high school and ran track there and in his first year in college. Fletcher said she was gathering paperwork and financial aid to help her son apply to the Johns Hopkins University to become a surgeon.
Fletcher said her son was kind-hearted and ambitious young man, who was "the man of the house" and a father figure to his youngest brother, Kidane Fletcher, 10.
"He gave his younger brother advice; he would call the youngest on the cellphone to help with homework. He looked up to the older one so much, like a father," she said.
Chelsea Joseph, who said she had been Edmond St. Clair's girlfriend for the past three years, was with the group Saturday night when the men borrowed her car to get food, she said. Joseph said St. Clair had an active social life and did well in school, with a grade point average above 3.7. He wanted to become an emergency-room doctor, she said.
"That was his dream," said Joseph, 19. St. Clair's interests included music, movies and video games, she said.
"You would love to be around him," she said. "There was never a dull moment."
Friends called Joseph on Saturday night to tell her St. Clair had been stabbed.
"I just started to scream because I couldn't believe," she said, describing how she ran outside in the cold without a coat to try to find him.
St. Clair was a taking an organic chemistry class this semester taught by Victoria Volkis, who said he stood out in a class of 100 as one of the few students who really grasped the material.
"Anytime you see the 'A' grade student, you really remember," Volkis said. "I could see him as a student with a good potential."
St. Clair was a passionate man who occasionally displayed a temper, his brother said. St. Clair was charged with first- and second-degree assault in September, but the first-degree charge was dropped and he was acquitted in January of the second-degree charge and related charges.
"He had a strong belief in God; he thought he was unstoppable because he believed in God. He thought nothing would happen," Isaiah St. Clair said. "All my life, I had to hold him and say, 'Yo, you're not bulletproof.' "
Edmond St. Clair was expecting his first child in April, a girl to be named Shiloh St. Clair, with Rhoda Boateng, Boateng and St. Clair's family said.
Boateng, who was at the St. Clair home in Severn on Sunday evening, said his daughter would be his legacy.
"Just watch out for his baby girl," Boateng said.
Police said university students were warned of the incident through a campus security alert system.
On Sunday morning, the university posted a message from Bell on its website that told of the incident and said, "We had the difficult task overnight of telling the parents of Edmond A. St. Clair their son's injuries resulted in his death ..."
"There is no more heart-wrenching duty for a college administrator than conveying this kind of tragic news to not only parents and loved ones, but everyone in the UMES community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Edmond's family and friends."
The incident came on the same day as a memorial service in Malvern, Pa., for Stephen Rane, 22, who police say was killed Feb. 12 by a housemate at his College Park residence. Rane, a senior, was a 2009 graduate of Centennial High School in Ellicott City. Police say Dayvon Green, a graduate student, killed Rane and wounded another roommate before killing himself.