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.”