August 29, 2016

Nazaire Stabbed After Attending Omega Psi Phi Event, Source Confirms

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A video released by the New York Daily News shows Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire, 19, dancing at the Cornell fraternity Omega Psi Phi orientation week party on Saturday night, shortly before the stabbing incident that ended his life.

The video — provided by Glenni Rodriguez, an Ithaca College sophomore — features Nazaire near the center of a circle of partygoers dancing to a mixtape track by Bronx rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.

After the party concluded, Nazaire’s friend Rahiem Williams accidentally knocked into another partygoer, causing the confrontations that appeared in the police report, according to Nazaire’s older sister Kiara Nazaire, 24.

“[Nazaire] was with his friend, his friend bumped a girl by accident and he apologized,” Kiara Nazaire told the Daily News. “Both of them apologized, even my brother apologized, and he didn’t bump the girl.”

Hundreds of students attended the party at Willard Straight Hall, according to the Ithaca Police Department. Cornell Presidents Hunter R. Rawlings III said in a University statement today that the Omega Psi Phi fraternity — a fraternity that identifies as predominantly African-American — has been hosting such an event in Willard Straight Hall during the first week of classes for several years.

Several physical altercations took place after the event ended, according to the IPD. Cornell Police found the two men stabbed in front of Olin Hall, after responding to a report of a large fight at approximately 1:57 a.m. on Sunday, The Sun previously reported.

Omega Psi Phi President Adebowale Sordiq Sodeke said the event was scheduled to end at 2 a.m. but all attendees were out of Willard Straight Hall by 1:45 a.m.

Sodeke said the two Ithaca College students were at the party but he did not know them personally. His account differed slightly from the police report, insisting that there was only one physical altercation outside, not several.

Sodeke added that the event was a “successful” one and everyone was “happy.” He stressed that the incident occurred after the event was completely over.

Nazaire was transported to Cayuga Medical Center and later pronounced dead. The other student was flown to Upstate Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and has since been released.

Kiara Nazaire said Williams was also stabbed in the brawl but survived. She added that Williams later called her, saying he felt responsible and wanted to apologize.

“It’s not his fault,” Kiara Nazaire told the Daily News. “They didn’t ask for it. I know my brother — my brother’s not gonna argue with any girls.”

Nazaire’s mother, Katia Toussaint, said her son called her moments before leaving for the party that night, vowing that it would be his one night out before “buckling down and focusing on his studies,” the Daily News reported.

“I’m going to a party for the first and last time for the year,” Nazaire told his mom, according to Toussaint. “You know I’m coming in early. I don’t stay out.”

Kiara Nazaire told the police the family has one suspect in the “senseless slaying” and urged anyone with knowledge of the incident to come forward.

“If you have anything — don’t be a coward, don’t feel like it’s snitching,” Kiara Nazaire said. “Anthony didn’t deserve this. He wasn’t a troubled kid.”

“We offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased student, 19-year-old Anthony Nazaire of Brooklyn, NY,” Rawlings said in a statement today. “Our thoughts are also with the injured student, who has been released from the hospital.”

New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton also encouraged the community to “honor Anthony Nazaire’s life and memory” in a press release today.

“The cruelty of senseless violence knows no boundaries as to geography, background or age — it strikes with a suddenness and a starkness that can end in a desolation, in a despair at the injustice of a promising young soul taken far too soon,” Hamilton said. “We cannot surrender to those feelings of despair.”

  • A Concerned Parent

    I found President Rawlings’ letter lacking. There seems to be no one at Cornell that is willing to take responsibility for this tragedy or at least acknowledge their failures. Repeating the mantra that “we take the safety of our students seriously” just doesn’t cut it. Sounds like Rawlings’ and Lombardi’s words have been written by lawyers. Why was any organization allowed to throw a party until 2:00 am? Why wasn’t CUPD present when the party dispersed? How could someone be allowed to carry a weapon into the party? My condolences to the Nazaire family. Like all of us, they deserved better from th0se administrators to whom all of us entrust the safety of our children.

    • Alumni08

      My sincerest condolence to this young man’s family as to any family who has lost a loved one too soon. This is a tragedy for the Ithaca community as a bright light has gone out. I am however so tired of people (parents?) blaming a university for situations outside of what they are responsible for. There are many checks when holding an event in a campus building but all of the people attending this event were adults. They do not require babysitting. They are going to be voting for our next president in 2 months. They are expected by all of society to be able to make decisions for themselves. If you do not think that your child can make decisions for themselves at this point in their life…you have failed as a parent.
      Blaming the university for not having a babysitter for everyone is not doing anything but distracting from the fact that a young man lost his life too soon. Spend your time thinking of his family instead of trying to find someone to blame besides the person who committed the crime.

      • Kelley

        I absolutely agree. Countless campus events end in the evening with no incident. As they noted in the article, this same even has taken place for years with no issue. The Cornell campus is very large – CUP does not stand outside of student events making sure everyone is orderly like a line leader. Further, they do not operate metal detectors or searches before events. These suggestions are impractical and don’t reflect the fact that Cornell and IC students are adults who are living in the area to learn, not Cornell’s child wards. One incident where potentially as few as one person made a horrible decision does not change that.

    • Concerned Parent ’18

      Perhaps if Cornell stopped being so PC, these type of tragic events would not happen. The Delta Mu Mu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi has a video they posted on youtube called “Neophyte Showcase.” This appears to be a hazing/pledging video and by itself should be grounds for campus expulsion. Perhaps they don’t have a house because their behavior would never be acceptable to Cornell University. Why they were allowed a campus venue is unimaginable. Why non-Cornell students were allowed is beyond belief. It was only a matter of time until a tragedy like this happened. You be the judge after you watch the video:

      • Mark Cook ’69

        I don’t know about “PC” but somehow, this doesn’t look like what African American students, or their white supporters in Students for a Democratic Society, were struggling for at Cornell in the late 1960s. I was a student then (Class of ’69), was active in SDS, and had an African American roommate. I can assure you that we would all have been appalled at the fraternity hazing/pledging on display in this video, and at fraternity idiocy generally.

        • Mark Cook ’69

          And the number of us who were affiliated with fraternities in any way was close to absolute zero. Frats looked like they were going to die of terminal stupidity, but they got a new lease on life when state legislatures raised the drinking age to 21.

      • Sad sad parent

        Cornell Administration-Time to close this fraternity down on your campus!! Fraternity chapters on campuses are closed down for issues much more minor than a murder!!!..

        • Sad Student

          What? This would imply that the Fraternity in question was not only aware of the murder, but complicit in it. We have no information on the stabber in question, much less any frats or sororities they may have participated in. The consequence here should lie with the guilty party, and that’s after we determine who the guilty party is. How does the frat have anything to do with this murder?

          • Sad sad parent

            The fraternity/it’s members may have had nothing at all to do with the stabbing that occurred after their party . However, they held a party in which they were fully aware that they were inviting everyone and anyone in Ithaca to party on Cornell’s campus without even giving thought to security issues for such a large scale event, and the clashes that can arise from all the people from different places/schools/towns. That in itself is a problem for this fraternity as far as I’m concerned, and then equally as responsible is the university itself for allowing this party open to everyone to occur On campus grounds.

  • map

    What’s lacking is the logic in your comment. Why would a college not permit events until 2am? Are you suggesting that there be metal detectors at every single Cornell event? You presumably know nothing else about the facts other than what have been publicly reported, none of which suggest any culpability or negligence on the part of anyone except the individual who committed the act of violence.

    • A Concerned Parent

      If it was your child you would be asking the same questions. Yes, maybe metal detectors need to be considered at least for parties that may include alcohol. Yes, maybe Cornell should not sanction events that go this late (no one is suggesting that private parties can’t go all night). And yes, in some cases, when leaders make mistakes and do not anticipate reasonable preventive measures that could have been employed, then they do need to be held accountable. Let’s have an honest debate and not simply dismiss sensible ideas on how to prevent another tragedy in the heart of the campus.

      • A Student

        Alchohol was not served at this event. If the involved parties were intoxicated, it happened independently, before they stepped foot into the party. Please check your facts.

  • Mark

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of Anthony Nazaire.

    All the more reason to take exception to the astounding claims by Omega Psi Phi President Sodeke that “the event was scheduled to end at 2 a.m. but all attendees were out of Willard Straight Hall by 1:45 a.m.,” that the incident occurred after the party was completely over, that the event was a “successful” one and that everyone was “happy.”

    Since police arrived at 1:57 to find two students stabbed, one fatally, just across the walkway from the Straight, people must have become unhappy awfully fast. I’ll leave it to Sodeke to explain how the event was a “successful” one.

    This really raises the question why Cornell would rent out the Straight, not just to a private party (the Straight was supposed to be for all students) but to a party thrown by a fraternity, where one would have a hard time believing that a great deal of alcohol was not readily available.

    Over the summer, the Straight was closed a lot, including for wealthy families to hold wedding parties.

    This never used to happen: it used to be open 7 days a week, including all summer. Yes, the Memorial Room was sometimes reserved by a student group, but to hold a lecture or similar event — open to all.

    It may be that the fraternity in this case has no chapter house. That is no excuse to give it the Straight so that it can hold a party.

    • Person who attended the party

      It wasn’t a private party. No alcohol was served. The party was open to all. Your entire comment is incorrect and ill informed . You shouldn’t so openly speak about things you know nothing about. The party was a success. Everyone was happy. What occurred outside should not be associated with those in the building. It’s an unfortunate situation but people like you only further aggravate what happened

      • elizabennett

        Basically the premises were opened to T-R-A-S-H. Thugs disguised as college students or bringing thugs as “guests.” Because anyone who takes a knife to a college party and then uses it, is a THUG. Cornell does not normally open school premises to frat parties numbering hundreds of attendees and going until 2am. They made exceptions for this particular frat demographic for the worst reasons, and the whole school now has to endure the result.

        The “no alcohol was served” biz is clearly disingenuous nonsense. Obviously the partygoers were partyin’ hearty. The sister says the friend the deceased was with when the fight started told her he was “sick” and the deceased was helping him leave when he bumped into some female partygoer and a knife fight start. Oh, right, he was “sick,” with a “stomachache.” The truth about what happened here is getting some heavy editing. Why?

      • Mark

        This looks as if it was written by a lawyer for Omega Psi Phi’s Cornell chapter or its national organization. I would be very surprised if representatives of the national office, including lawyers, did not arrive in Ithaca over the weekend.

        MEMBERS (AND PARENTS OF MEMBERS) BEWARE: If such Omega Psi Phi national organization reps ask you to write up everything that happened, including distribution of liquor to minors, be warned that your “brothers” are not acting on your behalf. If at all possible, the national organization and the local chapter will try to deflect any blame onto you. If your parents own their home, lawyers for Anthony Nazaire’s family may sue you and end up attaching your parents’ home. If you have already signed anything, get your own lawyer. And don’t sign anything else, or speak to any Omega Psi Phi reps. In fact, put as much distance between yourself and them as possible.

        The question is why the University handed over the Straight to a fraternity to throw a party, as part of Orientation. Was the idea to promote fraternity membership? I hope not, especially with Omega Psi Phi, which has an ugly recent history nationally of brutal hazing and the like. As one Washington Post commenter noted earlier this week: “Seems Omega Psi Phi has a history of excessive physical hazing and multiple reports of injuries, including a charge of gang rape. All in the past 2 years. Seems endemic to the fraternity with reports from the University of Houston, Valdosta, Johnson Smith U, Saginaw Valley State U, and Florida Atlantic. Should the people in charge of the Fraternity perhaps be motivated to try and change this reputation, they might first consider looking within their own membership. However, can find nothing to indicate the frat leadership has gone out of it’s way to stop these practices. It is always the school that imposes punishment.”

        The statement by Interim President Rawlings that Omega Psi Phi has been holding these parties in the Straight for some years, presumably without incident, is beside the point. Why allow a frat to promote frat life like this? When I was a student, as part of orientation we had forums discussing various university issues, political, social, etc., with student and faculty speakers. We didn’t have the Straight handed over to a frat for a party. I can only imagine the protests, including in Sun editorials if such a thing had occurred (at the time, the Sun was regularly denouncing Greek organizations as intellectual and academic sinkholes, can’t think why).

  • Darnell Jones

    Cornell is obviously going to be cautious about how it reacts to this killing. The facts are not all known, witnesses who filmed the incident are not coming forward because they don’t want to be seen as snitches, and this happened at a black fraternity party (or “near” one, i.e. across the road). It’s almost certainly inexcusable black-on-black violence, and that’s not something that fits the current narrative about the respect for black lives that Cornell is trying so desperately to establish right now. African American voices at Cornell have very successfully positioned themselves as voices for reason and justice in the last two years, and an incident like this threatens all that. It’s hard to get others to respect you when you then act according to the very stereotypes you’re trying to fight. A sad situation for the victims and their families, and a sad situation for black students at Cornell. I hope the administration finds a way to handle this that highlights bad decisions made by a few young men who will be held accountable, not as racialized violence. The frat should be held accountable, too. Any other frat would be.

    • Sad parent

      Sorry to say, but fraternity parties should never be held in any on campus building. If a fraternity wants to throw a party, it should be at their own house or they can rent out a hall or bar off campus. Not sure what the administration was thinking in allowing this, but most people that have been to fraternity parties are aware of how wild they can get -alcohol can be brought in I’m sure even if not “served” This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if the police had been fully present as people exited the party and in the main areas where students would be walking. Bolton line, if a fraternity party was sanctioned to be held on campus, which I don’t believe it should, then better safety preparations should have been in place for a 2 am end to it.

      • elizabennett

        Fraternity parties normally are NOT held on campus buildings. Cornell pandered to this group, and the whole community now has to deal with the consequences.

        • Sad parent

          As the parent of a brand new freshman there, I had no idea what the norm is for these parties on campus. So,for many of us new college parents you can imagine how scared ,saddened by the loss of this Ithaca student,and disgusted at the same time regarding what occurred

      • SuspensionBridge

        How is this any more or less likely to happen at an off campus party?

        • Sad parent

          It it is just as likely to happen on as it is off-campus but that’s not the point . The point is that the university has a responsibility to protect students when a social event is occurring on their campus grounds ..especially a university building which is being “loaned” out for the use of a very large crowd. and knowing damn well that the party is open to anyone in Ithaca-especially a fraternity party until 2am- this was not an ice cream social from 3 to 6 pm. it was a university sanctioned open fraternity party- and if the administration was not aware of this, then shame on them. The point is that if an event is happening on campus, they need to be mindful of whether it is open to everybody in Ithaca and if so, it is their duty to do whatever they can to provide some sort of security IF ITS ON CAMPUS GROUNDS. Our students safety should come above anything else!!

    • elizabennett

      Let’s get the truth and the facts out there, no matter how unpalatable they may be to the PC warriors.

    • Tom Rissman

      Speaking of stereotypes: I think the Cornell Daily Sun needs to rethink its “Related Articles” section. One of the articles listed there is clearly related to this story, but the other one deals with racial tensions on the IC campus from last year. It’s hard to see how that story is related to this one unless the editorial decision is that everything involving black students at IC is related.

  • Someone

    A tragedy to say the least. The amount of bureaucracy involved in holding events on or near campus is already absurd: permits, regulations, police presence, and other checks are arguably already excessive. To say that this was Cornell or the police’s fault indicates that you have never attempted to organize any kind of event in Ithaca. It is purely the attacker(s) who should be held responsible, there is only so much safety that regulation can provide without ruining the livelihood of the campus.

  • Reality Check

    The Cornell-responsibility issue hinges on the scale of fighting as the event ended. Early reports referred to “several fights.” If that’s true then perhaps Cornell was lax in handling its role as landlord for the party. But if there was just one violent person, that’s probably unforeseeable. In any case, it’s tragic that a good and promising young man is gone. Heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and college-mates.

  • This is an utterly horrible and senseless loss, but neither Cornell nor Ithaca College nor the fraternity can or should be held responsible for it. The responsibility lies solely the perpetrator(s) of this crime. No matter how much security anyone can provide – whether at a college campus, or an airport, or a shopping mall, or a movie theatre or an elementary or high school – senseless, willful criminal acts such as this one will occur and recur unless and until all societies – governments, races, religions, and families – adopt and teach abhorrence of violence. I am 63 years old, and when I was young, the things we have today were no only unspeakable but also unimaginable. Even sadder than the fact that things like this now routinely happen is the ever-increasing blame that we now attempt to cast upon others than those who are actually responsible for tragedies like this one. Here is everyone’s choice: Either continue to lock down freedom in response to the sickness that is infecting our world, or take a stand to reverse the awful course that is now becoming the norm.

  • Concerned alumnus

    Generations ago,, Cornell realized that fraternities and sororities should postpone recruitment events until much later in the fall. Why was this fraternity allowed to hold an event during Orientation Week? Why was it allowed to last until 2 a.m.? Why were Ithaca College students allowed to attend? What system was in place to prevent people from bringing in their own alcohol to the event? Were sober monitors in place throughout the event? When the event was approved, was a size limitation imposed on the number of attendees? How was that monitored and enforced?

    Someone was murdered on the Cornell campus. Every member of the Cornell community should cooperate with the police until we identify the attacker and fully understand what happened. Travis Apgar and his staff have a lot of explaining to do as to why this event was approved and allowed to be conducted in a manner that got out of control.

  • Eddie Coyle

    One needs to let the facts come forward. It is entirely possible the perpetrator was not a student at all, but a local resident or visitor drawn by an open party. Cornell is an open campus, there is no fence, and certainly there is no desire for Cornell Police to profile either Black students, fraternities, or visitors.

    • Reality Check

      It’s not clear that the party was open. It wasn’t shown on the CU events calendar, which is customary for open events. There’s still a lot of reporting to be done.

      • Reality Confirmed

        Not clear it was open?!? I think we all agree that it is logical to assume that the people in the fight had attended, or at least had been attracted to, the event in the Straight. We know the victims had been there. I haven’t heard a single witness to the fight that is actually a Cornell student, but I’ve heard second-hand accounts from students at other area colleges. So regardless of their stated intent, it appears that, in practice, there were no measures that would have prevented non-Cornellians from attending.

        • Sad parent

          Agree with above. Hopefully from this point on any fraternity or organization that uses a building on the Cornell campus for a large “2am ” party should have security in place to make sure through student IDs that it is attended by Cornell students , otherwise as I said before, have it off campus on your own terms if you are going to allow students from other local colleges and From town to attend if you want an open to everyone event-especially a frat party!!!!

      • Reality Check on Reality Check

        Organizers of open events are not required to list their event on the CU events calendar. There are many events — open parties, CU sponsored events, student-run meetings that are open to anyone — that are not listed on the events calendar.

      • Really Reality

        The party was listed on the room reservation calendar as a “social event”….a little coy, no?

        Omega Psi Phi’s Instagram post (and who knows how many posters) for the party invited all to “turn up with the Ivy League Bruhz!”……if that doesn’t indicate an open party, I don’t know what would.

        I await further reporting of the investigation……there area lot of questions to be answered.

      • SuspensionBridge

        At least one article I read on Sunday quoted a witness who was a student at Tompkins County Community College. Sounds pretty open even if it wasn’t on an official event calendar.

  • Dan K. ’92

    This event is shocking. Anthony Nazaire sounds like a fine young man with a promising future who was cut down in his prime in a completely pointless act of violence. Clearly there are two direct victims of this tragedy, but an ancillary victim is the Cornell community itself. Without diminishing the tragedy of Nazaire’s loss, this story is national news only because it occurred on the campus of an Ivy League university. There isn’t a headline out there that doesn’t include the Cornell name. That there is not yet a single witness or fact that even suggests that Cornell students were directly involved in the fight seems to get lost. I’ve heard plenty of quotes from the IC community and even from a witness from another local college. It’s entirely possible that the event that preceded the fight even attracted locals who weren’t students anywhere. So it would seem that the event, while hosted by a small Cornell fraternity, was wide open to a broader community that might not share our values.

    I certainly don’t know what the solution to this is (though I’m not a fan of purely reactionary measures, in general) but it would seem to start with restricting access to campus facilities for such events, or at least more closely monitoring them if “outsiders” are likely to attend. Cornell students need to be treated like the adults that they are – the future leaders of this country. But when unknown elements are involved, a higher degree of caution should be exercised in order to protect the Cornell students, the facilities, and as evidenced in this situation, the good name of Cornell.

    • Bleeding Red

      Fully agree. Cornell is tangentially related to this incident at best, but one certainly would not assume that from reading the headlines.

      Clearly the fraternity that hosted the “event” needed to consider the ramifications of inviting onto our campus townies and anyone else who isn’t vested in our community. And if they were not responsible enough to do that, then the university certainly should have been by imposing appropriate security restrictions or denying the use of the facilities.

      It has taken 150 years to build up Cornell’s good name, and one night to tarnish it in national news. How we handle this will go a long way towards restoring our good reputation. The shroud of silence that seems to have settled around this incident is not helping and is quite disturbing.

  • Borris

    Murder was witnessed. It occurred in a crowd. Someone on campus saw the murderer.

    Who are you? Where are you? Why are you hiding? Afraid of retribution? If so, by whom?

    • Doesn’t the friend that was stabbed also know? How about the girl that was bumped?

  • Gino

    All fraternities and sororities should be banned from all college campuses. The problems they create are far greater than the benefits they produce. Have we forgotten the main purposes of a good college education? Many institutions are concerned that ending greek life would cause many former students to cease donating to their college. College presidents must step-up and choose common-sense over money.

  • Old Alum

    Deepest sympathies and condolences to his parents and family. I hope that Cornell holds a service or event to honor his life.

  • Sad sad parent

    Very simple Cornell- keep wild fraternity parties out of campus buildings. Sorry if a chapter has no “house” Imaginr if your kid were innocently walking through campus with a few friends that night and cane upon this crowd as they were leaving this party, and “bumped” into someone as reported-really??? A parent should not have to worry about that crap-there are enough of other things to worry about!!.Cornell admin- TAKE SOME CONTROL OF THE EVENTS ON YOUR CAMPUS!!-no fraternity parties for all of Ithaca hosted in your buildings!!Wake up!! This is a sad mess and such an unnessary loss of life. And by the way, now kids will feel that they need to bring protection to big parties like that, so good luck if this type of event is allowed again on campus.

  • Sad sad parent

    Excuse the typos above -did not proofread

  • Coming In Early

    Too bad he didn’t keep his word to his mother about coming home early, as she is quoted: “You know I’m coming in early. I don’t stay out.”

  • Gabby

    University parties should be open only to Cornell and Ithaca students. All others should receive admittance, unless you are a guest of the org. hosting the event.
    The org. should have your name on the list prior to the party. Everybody should be allowed to attend just cause you can pay a cover charge. The perpetrators weren’t even students.

    • Gabby