Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs / Sun City Editor

Emergency personnel treat a victim's injuries and interview witnesses next to the food truck on Eddy Street early in the morning on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

March 10, 2018

Suspect Assaulted 3 Cornell Students and Used Racial Epithets in Collegetown, Police Say

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Police said a man physically assaulted a Cornell student and called him racial epithets early on Saturday morning, and that when two other students attempted to intervene, they were assaulted as well.

Shortly after police arrived on the scene at the corner of Eddy Street and Dryden Road about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, one student in a suit and tie — who was later transported to the hospital — was lying on the sidewalk next to the food truck and another was sitting on the grass.

He stood up at one point and grabbed the post of a traffic sign before sitting back down and receiving medical attention.

Several Cornell and Ithaca police officers and other emergency personnel responded after police received multiple calls reporting a fight. The officers spoke to witnesses who said a male student was verbally and physically assaulted by an unknown man who used racial epithets.

Two of the injured Cornell students — the victim and one of the men who intervened — were transported to Cayuga Medical Center for treatment and later released.

One of the victims described the suspect as a white, college-age man who is about 5-feet-9-inches tall.

The suspect had dirty blond hair, wore a red and white baseball cap and a New England Patriots hooded, zip-up jacket, the witness told police. The suspect was last seen heading south on Eddy Street.

Cornell Police searched the Collegetown area but did not locate any suspects. Police did not identify the nature of the racial slurs nor identify the race of any of the victims.

David Honan, the deputy chief of the Cornell Police Department, said he could not share any more specific details without harming the investigation.

He said police believe there are additional witnesses that may have information and encouraged anyone who knows anything about the altercation to call Cornell Police at 607-255-1111.

“We are continuing to gather evidence and investigate this serious crime,” he said.

The assaults occurred just two blocks away from — and on the same street as — an altercation in September that led to a Cornell sophomore being arrested and charged with a hate crime. That case has not yet gone to trial and is in the pre-trial motion phase.

In a statement on Saturday morning, President Martha Pollack and Ryan Lombardi, the vice president for student and campus life, said they would “not simply brush this episode aside.”

“Nor will we let it deter us as we continue to strive for a more just, equitable and inclusive campus,” the administrators continued. “As we stated last fall, all of us who abhor such acts must speak out against injustice, racism and bigotry.”

Pollack and Lombardi said that very little is known about the early-morning assault, but that if a Cornell student is found to be responsible, “he would be accountable to the Campus Code of Conduct in addition to any criminal proceedings.”

Cornell has been in contact with both victims who were treated at the hospital, the administrators said.

“We must reach out and support each other and continue the difficult work of building a community grounded in mutual respect and kindness,” Pollack and Lombardi said.

Pollack and Lombardi said they look forward to the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate, which was formed after the September arrest of John Greenwood ’20.

“But all of this will remain only words without a mutual resolve on all of our parts to look inside ourselves; to express empathy and compassion to one another; to embrace change; and to make a difference,” Pollack and Lombardi wrote in the statement. “That work must continue, every day, and must be done by all of us.”

Vijay Pendakur, the dean of students, said a community support meeting would take place on Saturday evening at 5 in the Willard Straight Hall International Lounge on the fourth floor.

“We have the powerful opportunity to meet intolerance and bigotry with love and solidarity,” Pendakur said. “As a caring community, Cornell University is stronger for standing together in these challenging times.”