By Nick Carson
Two KU football players have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault as well as charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct and defiant trespass for their involvement in a fight that took place at a fraternity party near Bloomsburg University early Sunday, Feb. 23. Another two football players were suspended from the team, but have not faced criminal charges.
Angel Shakiel Cruz was the first to be arrested late Thursday night, followed by Justin Scott Wieder, who was arrested early Saturday morning. Eric Thomas Condron and Jake Bryan Wygant were not arrested, but all were suspended from the Golden Bears football team, according to a statement issued by Kutztown University Relations.
As reported by Manuel Gamiz Jr. of The Morning Call, the fight allegedly began when the KU football players came to a closed frat party at an off-campus house on North Iron Street in Bloomsburg, Pa. When the four were asked to leave, things turned physical, and according to the criminal complaint, became a brawl when Wieder allegedly knocked out Bloomsburg student Ryan Palko.
Bloomsburg students Christopher Messano and Donald Hoover were also injured outside the party. Messano, who later identified his attacker as Cruz, was punched in the face, and Hoover suffered a ruptured eardrum and a fractured bone behind his ear.
According to witnesses, as the fight spilled onto the street, another Bloomsburg student, Jackie Lithgrow, attempted to break it up. As he asserted himself into the fight, Cruz allegedly punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. According to hospital reports, Lithgrow hit the back of his head on the concrete, causing him to be knocked unconscious.
Since the fight, Lithgrow has not regained consciousness, and remains in critical condition at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Montour County, where he was immediately flown after the fight. He is reported to have suffered a fractured skull, a bruised frontal lobe and has bleeding in his brain.
Police have reported that several witnesses have identified the KU football players as the attackers. Several reported being punched and kicked by the alleged assailants. All of the alleged attackers fled the scene before police arrived.
KU was quick to respond to the situation and aided in the arrest of both Cruz and Wieder. “We have fully cooperated with the authorities in Bloomsburg in their investigation. This is clearly behavior that we will not tolerate and is in no way representative of our student body,” said Matt Santos, Director of Kutztown University Relations.
KU Student Government Board (SGB) president Nick Imbesi made his opinion on the matter clear in a Facebook status posted just hours after the news of the first arrest. “As President of the KU Student Body and the KU Student Government Board, I want to make clear that these actions from a few students do not reflect the morality or ethics of our students. We stand strongly against such actions and we are ashamed of the decisions these students made. I am advocating for the removal of the students involved from our campus because our campus has no place for this type of behavior,” Imbesi wrote.
On Feb 5, Cruz waived a misdemeanor simple assault charge and charges of harassment and disorderly conduct in Berks County court, which stem from an event that occurred last October.
As of Tuesday, March 4, neither Cruz nor Wieder have legal representation listed in court documents, as they await trial in this case.