More details emerge regarding Halloween assault

By Amanda Beland
On November 9, 2009

The 21-year-old victim of last Saturday's assault, who requested to remain anonymous, is not angry, frustrated or wanting revenge; he just doesn't want anyone else to go through what he has.

"He's not angry," said Amanda Chase, the victim's friend and the creator of the Facebook group to help with the investigation. "At first he was a little frustrated, which is understandable, but he's just more confused now. He just wants this thing to be solved."

Chase, with her and the victim's friend Alex Cubs, created the Facebook group, Find Those Responsible for the Halloween Assault at UNH, to help with the investigation by giving students an indirect way to talk about what they might have witnessed. As of 2:31 p.m. yesterday, there were 4,938 members, and over 100 wall posts on the group page, showing a mix of sympathy and support.

"I have received at least 15 private messages with pictures or witness accounts," said Chase during an interview last Friday.

Cubs, who called the victim the night of the assault to meet up, found out what had happened to him from his father later that night. He said he notices a change in his friend, not only in his physical appearance, but in his emotional state as well.

"He was one of those kids that never shut up," Cubs said. "He was always super lively and talkative. Now, he's really sedate and quiet. When I first saw him, I was like ‘Holy crap!' I mean, one of his eyes was swollen shut and his whole face was scraped."

Cubs and Chase's friend was attacked last Saturday at approximately 11:35 p.m. by five assailants between Stoke and Sawyers halls, before being rushed to the hospital after a 911 call was made by a passerby.

According to Chase, the victim was walking alone when a group of kids yelled at something at him. When the victim ignored the remarks, he was jumped. His last memory was being punched in the face before going unconscious and later regaining consciousness in the ambulance. The victim sustained multiple injuries including a broken jaw, which is currently wired shut, and scrapes covering one entire side of his body.

According to witness accounts, multiple people walked by the assault, including watching from the nearby Sawyer and Stoke Halls, and did nothing.

"If one kid had stopped sooner and said, ‘Hey, I'm going to call the cops,' it could've helped," Chase said. "I mean, these could be kids we're going to class with."

In this instance of bystander phenomena, the studied occurrence of individuals walking by or watching a crime and not intervening, alcohol or obviously colored costumes could have hindered bystander intervention. According to Victoria Banyard, an associate professor of psychology, the ability for an individual to become part of a crowd, can delay bystander involvement.

"That people become anonymous in a crowd, they are less likely to step in and do that right thing," said Banyard in an email about in the incident. "This might be exacerbated by people being in costume - people feel less identifiable and thus, perhaps, less responsible for doing something."

Banyard also addresses the role that alcohol may have played in this instance of bystander phenomena.

"I think what we do know is that if bystander's own behavior might get them in trouble, such as if they are underage and have been drinking, they may be reluctant to call police or step in to help for fear that they will then come under the spotlight of authorities," Baynard said.

A fear of the authority's spotlight, as well as a fear of retaliation, may be holding many students back from coming forward, according to Paul Dean, deputy chief for the UNH Police Department. To Dean, these fears are very real, as he references the possibility of a video of the attack that a student may have, but is scared to turn it into authorities.

According to Dean, after a story on the attack ran on WMUR, a mother of a student wrote on the WMUR blog that her daughter had a video of the attack, but was frightened to give it as evidence to the investigation.

"We're really trying very hard here," said Dean in a phone interview on Monday.

Dean said that they are currently working with leads that appear promising, though it may be too early to tell how promising they really are.

If you or anyone you know witnessed this attack or have a picture or video of attack, UNH Police ask that you call 603-862-1427. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through the Facebook group or at this website: http://www.unh.edu/upd/Contact-Us.html.


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