The Eastern Michigan University Police Department is still looking for the suspect in connection to the 11:45 a.m. “minor stabbing” that occurred Tuesday morning in Phelps Hall.
According to a safety notice released by the department, information gathered indicates the victim opened the door to the residence hall room and the suspect then entered.
A struggle ensued when the suspect began to take property from the room. During the struggle, the victim was struck in the head by a fist and injured in the hand by a knife held by the suspect.
The suspect then fled the room and took a laptop computer.
O’Dell said although there are still relatively few details available, he could confirm the woman stabbed is thought to have been an EMU student in the past.
“She’s not a current student, but we think she is a former one,” O’Dell said.“We’re still trying to gather information, and that’s the most accurate up-to-date info we have.”
EMU Police are currently reviewing surveillance video tapes to gather more information about the suspect.
“We’re obviously all over the area and checking cameras,” O’Dell said.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s with a dark complexion, a goatee and weighing about 200 pounds. The suspect was seen wearing a long-sleeve, royal blue thermal shirt; dark blue jeans and a gray baseball cap. It is believed he was carrying a mostly white backpack with two vertical royal blue stripes, gray strings and a black bottom.
The alert said he left the building in an unknown direction and was traveling on foot.
In response to the number of students expressing displeasure regarding when they were notified about the stabbing, O’Dell said the delay happened because the victim waited to inform them.
“Just to be clear, it took an hour before it was reported to the police,” he said. “It’s not like it happened at 11:45 a.m. and we put it out later. We were not aware it occurred. ”
O’Dell said he understands why some members of the campus community were upset and confused.
“It is confusing and obviously we want to get the information out as fast as possible, but when the victim doesn’t call us, there’s a delay in reporting,” he said. “That’s the true reason for the delay.”
Freshman Bethany Houghteling said despite the stabbing she feels just as safe as she did before.
“Those types of things can’t really be prevented,” Houghteling said. “But in my book, a stabbing is a stabbing no matter how severe or ‘minor’ it may be.”
Sophomore Ahmed Al-Hassan echoed Houghteling’s sentiments and said the incident should not be described as minor.
“That’s something that needs to be investigated with a quickness,” he said. “I don’t feel as if I’m directly in danger, but if it happened to them, it can happen to anyone. I won’t be leaving my room unlocked.”
EMU student Sarah Leahy, who was interviewed shortly after EMU issued the RAVE Alert, said she was “horrified” the alert was sent out more than an hour after the incident occurred.
“I don’t see the point of having an alert system if we are not ‘alerted’ about an emergency right away,” Leahy said. “If I was in the First Year Center at all, I would have been pissed if I had been walking around there for an hour unaware of what had just happened.”
Leahy said describing the incident as minor is “an insult to the victim.”
“There is no such thing,” she said. “It sounds like they called it that to cover up wthe fact that it took them so long to make the campus community aware of the incident. Either way, shame on EMU.”
EMU Police have heightened the amount of security on campus to ensure the safety of students.
“We’re still doing extra patrols and at this point, no one has seen anything or anyone fitting that description at this point and we’re not seeing the person on camera,” O’Dell said.
Tuesday evening, the police held a meeting at the residence hall to discuss the incident.
“We’re asking people for any information that they have,” O’Dell said.
EMU Police also plan to conduct a follow up interview with the victim to see if she has any other details to provide.
Anyone with information is asked to contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222.