A Pennsylvania man visiting his Marist College freshman daughter over the weekend and staying at the Marriott Courtyard hotel where a homeless gunman allegedly gunned down another father on Sunday said it could have 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 on Wednesday. “You never think about something like this 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.”
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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 couple of shootings in Poughkeepsie lately and we were really unaware of it,” Bucsek said. “We know it as a small town on the river.”
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 leave the door open; most people leave their dorm rooms unlocked during the day,” he said. “They need more security there.”
How did those people get into the hotel? Who paid for it? …How did the bad guys get a room when it was probably sold out by June 1st?
As for her, 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 the family weekend.
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Many had been worried it would rain, but Bucsek said just a day before the shooting, the skies cleared and they had a beautiful day on campus.
“We are on a Facebook
with parents and everyone said, ‘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 everyone had a great time.”
The campus was beautiful, he said, with a close-knit feel despite belonging to a large school.
Bucsek, his wife and their Pomeranian were staying directly below the two suspects, he said, and he thinks he may have seen Kutz the morning before, getting coffee in the lobby.
“Now that I saw his picture, I could have sworn I saw him the day before in the lobby,” he said. “I’m usually in the lobby at that time. I just made up my mind [Sunday] morning to stay in my room and read.”
As he did so, he said, he heard a commotion and his dog became frantic, barking and jumping around. Within minutes, he said, police were rushing over to the hotel. He heard about a possible shooting through word of mouth minutes before he saw the SWAT team in the parking lot, he said.
His second daughter—not the first Marist student—was on the phone with a friend who happened to be in town visiting her own sister for a family weekend, staying at the Marriott Courtyard hotel. She said she heard gunshots. Bucsek’s daughter called him after the conversation and said she had heard about a hotel shooting in the area.
“I said, ‘Well that explains the noise I heard,’ and that’s how I found out,” he said.
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At 10 a.m., the hotel called and asked him to take shelter because a potential third suspect could still be at large. Police quickly determined there were only two, but hotel guests continued to slip in until the hotel provided shuttles to the campus or another Marriott location in town.
Police say Johnson was present at another killing on Aug. 9, when Darren Villani, 28, was fatally shot in his car at the intersection of Mansion Street and Bement Avenue, and he had evaded questioning in that case before Kutz’s killing . He also had an outstanding 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 previous prison sentence for burglary.
Johnson was ordered held without bail. Taylor was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon for with a loaded rifle without a 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 shared, officials said.
Kutz, of Northport, Long Island, owned an accounting and financial planning firm. He was a father of three, the youngest of whom is a freshman at Marist. Neighbors remembered 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 at 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 probably sold out on June 1st?”
Bucsek and his wife, Noral Jemali, said they paid more than $630 for two nights at 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 being stuck in an older hotel after a bad experience during college orientation and booked the Marriott as soon as she confirmed the date for the family weekend back in April.
“I told myself, once we know parents’ weekend dates, I’d better book the best place in town quickly,” she said. “Unfortunately, it ended up being the worst.”
If they had known in advance that the hotel housed homeless people, Bucsek said, he wouldn’t have minded.
“But if they told me there were homeless people there who were also suspects in a murder last month, there’s no way,” he said. “There’s no way I would have stayed at the hotel.”
Marriott did not respond to multiple Fox News Digital requests for comment.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones, Rebecca Rosenberg and Ashley Papa contributed to this report.