Four Pennsylvania men have been arrested and charged after a Black Lehigh University student was allegedly called a racial slur, chased to his dorm and assaulted on campus earlier this month, according to the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office.
Brandon John, 22, faces charges of simple assault and harassment; Michael Rosta, 21, faces charges of burglary and simple assault; Nabil Jameel, 22, faces charges of simple assault; and Cameron Graf, 22, faces a charge of simple assault and harassment. None of the defendants have any connection to the university, the DA’s office said in a Tuesday news release.
“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,” District Attorney Terry Houck said.
CNN’s attempts to reach Graf, Rosta and John for comment have been unsuccessful.
“The information is completely inaccurate. No one is guilty of anything at this time,” Jameel said to CNN over the phone.
Victim said ‘n-word’ yelled toward him as he was walking home, affidavit states
Campus police received a report of a “possible fight” in the early morning hours of April 15.
It reportedly began when the four men allegedly drove past the student, who was walking home with two other individuals. The victim has not been publicly identified to protect his privacy, according to the release.
Graf allegedly yelled the racial slur “n***er” to the victim from the vehicle, a police affidavit states.
The victim told police that he ran after the vehicle and hit his hands on the trunk. He also briefly touched one of the occupants in the back seat of the car before he disengaged and continued walking home, the DA’s office said.
“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,” the release states.
The police affidavit identifies Graf as the man who allegedly struck the victim.
All four men are accused of chasing the victim on foot into his dorm building, putting him in fear of being attacked. One witness told police she saw one of the males pull a small black firearm “from the front of his waistband and either clicked off the safety or racked the slide,” as he banged on the door of a room where the victim had locked himself in, according to the release.
Rosta is accused of threatening the victim while brandishing a handgun, according to the affidavits.
Police were able to track down the vehicle and identify John as the driver. John admitted to being involved in an altercation with the victim and told authorities he was with Rosta, Jameel and Graf – each of whom also admitted their involvement in the incident, the DA’s office said.
Lehigh pleased assailants have been charged, will continue to cooperate
Lehigh University said in a statement that it is grateful to police and the DA’s office for their handling of the case.
“We are pleased that the assailants were charged and we continue to cooperate in the investigation. The news released 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.
Although the incident was initially reported as a hate crime, the DA’s investigation found that a hate crime charge, as currently written in Pennsylvania state law, was not supported by the evidence found in the case, Public Relations Administrator for the Northampton County DA’s Office Davin Jurgensen said.
Rosta is due in court on May 15 for a preliminary hearing. John, Jameel and Graf have hearings scheduled for May 26, Jurgensen said.
Lehigh University is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – approximately 60 miles north of Philadelphia. It has a community of over 7,000 students, according to its website.
CNN’s Laura Ly contributed to this report.