(BETHLEHAM, Pa.) — Four men have been arrested for allegedly yelling racial slurs at a Black student at Lehigh University before chasing him and following him into his dorm, where he was allegedly assaulted, a Pennsylvania district attorney announced Tuesday.
The suspects — all in their early 20s but none of them current or former Lehigh students — drove past the victim, who was walking home with two friends early Saturday, and shouted racial slurs, according to Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck.
Brandon John, 22, and Cameron Graf, 22, are facing charges of simple assault and harassment; Michael Rosta, 21, is facing charges of burglary and simple assault; and Nabil Jameel, 22, is facing a charge of simple assault.
The victim, whom Houck did not name to protect his privacy, ran after the car after being called slurs and banged on the trunk of the vehicle, He then reached into one of the car windows, but was only able to briefly touch one of the occupants before backing away from the vehicle and walking home, the victim told investigators.
“The victim told the officers the vehicle then turned around and parked, and a group of males got out of the car and chased him and his two friends. The victim stated the group of males surrounded them just south of Packer Avenue and one of the males struck the victim before he was able to get away and run back to his residence hall on campus,” Houck said in a release.
Once in the dorm, the victim said he went to see a friend before going into one of the bathrooms. When he exited, the men, who had been let into the dorm, were waiting for him and began attacking him, according to Houck.
The victim got away and hid in a friend’s room inside the dorm, authorities said.
The witness who let the men into the building told police one of the suspects was armed with a handgun, Houck said.
Police used security camera footage to see the incident and were able to identify the vehicle and identify its driver as John. He was then interviewed by police and admitted to being involved in an altercation with victim and identified the others involved in the attack, according to Houck.
The other three men admitted they were involved in the incident, according to Houck.
“Northampton County has zero tolerance for this type of lawless behavior, and the defendants will absolutely face the consequences for their senseless actions. Students have a right to feel safe when they are on or around campus. I want to thank the Lehigh University Police for acting swiftly in their investigation to remove these individuals from our community,” Houck said.
The university thanked Lehigh police and the district attorney’s office for their handling of the “deplorable hate crime.”
“The news released today from the District Attorney contained additional details; the most concerning of these is that an assailant brandished a handgun during the pursuit and assault of our student. We support prosecution of this threat of violence and act of hate to the fullest extent of the law. We stand united in working together as a campus to eradicate hate and violence,” the university said in a statement.
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