Columbia janitor trapped by ‘angry mob’ speaks after slamming ‘trust-fund baby’ protester

Fearing retaliation, Columbia’s custodial champion opened up about the campus siege that pit him against an astroturf agitator and the “angry mob.”

In a photo that captured widespread sentiment over the pseudo-intellectual Marxist protests that have fomented antisemitism and terrorist sympathy on college campuses, Columbia University facilities worker Mario Torres became a hero at Hamilton Hall for physically handling a masked trespasser attempting to occupy the building.

While that intruder was later alleged to be a “possible leader” of the effort, suspected of being James Carlson, the trust-funded, townhome-owning heir to advertising executives who was slapped with five felony charges, Torres recently spoke with The Free Press about what may come for his future.

“Is Columbia going to retaliate and find a reason to fire me? Is someone going to come after me?” the 45-year-old father of two young children told Francesca Block. “So I’m taking a big risk doing this, but I think that they failed. They failed us. And I think that’s the bigger story. They failed us. They should have done more to protect us, and they didn’t.”

Recounting the events of the chaotic night of April 29 that rolled into the early hours of April 30, Torres explained, “They came from both sides of the staircases. They came through the elevators and they were just rushing. It was just like, they had a plan.”

“We don’t expect to go to work and get swarmed by an angry mob with rope and duct tape and masks and gloves,” the facilities worker said of the trespassers who “just multiplied and multiplied.”

Having recounted at one point “looking up and I noticed the cameras are covered,” Torres argued that the attempt to overtake the building where the office of the dean of Columbia was not a spontaneous event. “This was definitely planned.”

As for his encounter with the suspect believed to be Carlson, the custodian told Block, “He had a Columbia hoodie on, and I managed to rip that hoodie off of him and expose his face.”

“I was freaking out. At that point, I’m thinking about my family. How was I gonna get out? Through the window?” he recalled, adding of Columbia’s response to the lasting anti-Israel actions, “When it comes to the public safety, the workers’ safety, people don’t feel comfortable walking through a mob to punch in to get into campus. That’s crazy.”

With regard to Carlson, it was reported that the allegedly “professional agitator” had previously been charged in San Francisco in 2005 for his participation in anti-capitalist protest where violent participants had nearly killed a police officer after cracking open his skull.

Those charges were dropped in 2007, and last week the owner of a $2.3 million townhome in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn was slapped with felony burglary, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, conspiracy and criminal trespassing charges.

On top of that, Carlson had been charged with a hate crime, petit larceny and assault for allegedly setting a pro-Israel demonstrator’s flag on fire and hitting someone in the face with a rock in April.

To ensure that Torres be prepared should any legal woes befall him for standing against the mob and telling his story, a crowdfunding effort had been launched in his name and, at the time of this post, had surpassed the goal of $18,000 by a couple of hundred dollars.

Kevin Haggerty


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