A witness to an incident involving a Harvard security guard and a Black Graduate School of Education student said the stories of two witnesses which led to the guard's suspension last week were incorrect.
The guard, Stephen G. McCombe, allegedly raised his voice and acted "hostile and belligerent" towards third-year Graduate School of Education doctoral candidate Richard Rakobane while the student sat by his car on Appian Way on September 8, according to the confidential report on the incident obtained by The Crimson last week.
In interviews on Thursday and Friday, U.S. Postal Service Employee Paul Shannon contradicted the statements of Rakobane and the other witnesses. Although he also didn't hear the actual conversation, Shannon said McCombe did not raise his voice as he approached the student.
"The guard was not gruff or intimidating," Shannon said. "He wasn't in the man's face. He was more like, 'What are you doing?....I didn't see any aggression."
According to Shannon, that afternoon he was unloading mail from his mail truck on Appian Way, parked 30 to 40 feet in back of Rakobane's car, when he saw the guard come out of Larsen Hall.
When the guard went to talk to Rakobane, Shannon said he started to cross the street, headed toward Longfellow Hall to drop off his mail. He said he saw and heard McCombe and Rakobane talking.
"There was no yelling going on when I was anywhere in the area," Shannon said. Shannon said he was within hearing distance for at least the first part of the encounter, until he entered Longfellow Hall about a minute later.
"I've seen him yell at people [who parked illegally]," said Shannon, who said he had seen and exchanged small talk with McCombe previously while delivering mail on campus. "When he wants to yell, he can."
But another witness, Education School student Lee-Beng Chua, said in a University report on the incident and maintained in an interview on Sunday, that McCombe was yelling at the student.
"My attention was caught to the incident by the shouting," Chua said in an interview Sunday night. He said he was walking toward Gutman Library at the time of the incident. "I stopped and tried to see what had happened....It was the loudness that caught my attention."
University Mail handler Wayne Battle, the third witness, said in an interview last week that the guard didn't yell but rather was engaged in a heated exchange with the student.
"I heard a lot of things, but I really can't say what they were now," Battle said.
But Shannon alleged that Battle could not have even been a witness to the incident.
"Wayne was nowhere to be seen [during the incident]," Shannon said.
Shannon said he emerged from Longfellow Hallafter several minutes, having finished droppingoff his mail. He said he then saw Battle come outof a building further down the street, away fromthe scene of the incident. Battle started comingup Appian Way, "as if he was going back to work,"Shannon said.