UPDATE (3:20 p.m. July 18) — This story has been updated with additional information from the Ithaca Police Department, including a photo of the suspect, Denzil Dexter Cummings.

ITHACA, N.Y. — After a fatal stabbing Wednesday morning in Ithaca, local law enforcement agencies have been searching for the suspect who fled the scene on foot. At about 1 p.m. Thursday, police identified the suspect as 28-year-old Denzil Dexter Cummings. His whereabouts are still unknown.

“With no verified sightings, we are still asking individuals to be cautious and aware of their personal safety (i.e. locking doors, vehicles and other outside buildings) for precautionary measures,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release on Facebook.

Photograph of Cummings taken Wednesday in the area of Beebe Lake. (Provided by Ithaca Police Department)

The stabbing victim has been identified as 24-year-old Kennan Orson Michael Paul. Paul and Cummings were not from the area and were working on a construction project at Auden Ithaca at 210 Lake St., formerly known as the Gun Hill Apartments.

In an update at about 3:20 p.m. Thursday, the Ithaca Police Department released a photo of Cummings and said, “It has been determined that these individuals are relatives and this incident stemmed from a personal dispute. These men were in the City of Ithaca working as laborers for a construction company that was contracted by the Gun Hill Apartments. This was not a random act of violence.”

Paul and Cummings are from Newark, New Jersey, police said.

The stabbing occurred at about 10:38 a.m. Wednesday at the apartment complex Auden Ithaca. Emergency crews first responded to a report of an injured person outside the apartments. According to Acting IPD Chief Dennis Nayor, when officers arrived, they found a man bleeding who appeared to have stab wounds. The man later died of his injuries at Cayuga Medical Center.

From left, Lt. John Joly and Acting Chief Dennis Nayor. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)
From left, Lt. John Joly and Acting Chief Dennis Nayor. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Nayor and Lt. John Joly of the Ithaca Police Department held a brief press conference Wednesday evening saying the investigation was “fluid.” Local law enforcement searched for the man throughout the night, and alerts went out to Lansing residents that he may be in the area.

• Related: (Updated) Police continue to search for suspect in fatal stabbing in Ithaca

At about 8 a.m. Thursday, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office said there were no reported incidents in Lansing overnight. Last evening, Cummings was believed to be in the Benson Road, Asbury Road and Collins Road area, but no sightings have been verified. However, Lansing residents are still taking precautions.

Police blocked off a section of Lake Street for several hours on Wednesday. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)
Police blocked off a section of Lake Street for several hours on Wednesday. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

The Lansing Central School District sent out a message to members of the community saying they have instituted some additional campus-wide safety measures, including not holding outdoor activities. And if children will be going between buildings, they will be bussed. Superintendent Chris Pettograsso also said they have extra supervision and patrols.

“Please know that the Sheriff’s Office, Ithaca Police, and the NYS Police are working closely on this and are pursuing all leads with diligence,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The suspect and victim knew each other and were employees of Auden Ithaca, according to a statement from the company.

The latest description of Cummings, per the IPD news conference Wednesday, is that he is about 5’5″ to 5’6″ with a muscular build, wearing a white t-shirt, jeans and tan-colored Vans or similar style sneakers with a medium-cut afro.

In the update Thursday afternoon, IPD said the investigation remains fluid and they are actively following up on leads. They said they are committing “all available resources” to the investigation. Following the release, Nayor said, “We take the investigation of any crime very seriously. We’ll continue to investigate this and provide information as it becomes available. We want to thank our partners with New York State Police, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, and the Cornell University Police for their assistance. We do ask the community if they have any information that they please call 911 and we will investigate it.”

Anyone who sees the man matching the description of the suspect is urged to call 911 and not approach him.

Featured image: Denzil Dexter Cummings. As a note, the IPD says this photograph may not be representative of his current hairstyle. His current hairstyle may be longer and not braided.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.