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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Police investigate sophomore's injuries

Hanover Police is still investigating how John Coleman '98 received extensive head wounds that caused him to bleed profusely early Saturday morning, and have not ruled out the possibility that he was involved in a fight.

Although Hanover Police Detective Sergeant Frank Moran said there currently is no evidence that Coleman was involved in an "altercation," he said "there is still some degree of mystery with regard to what happened."

"We're not sure if he could have been in an altercation or if he just fell," Moran said. Moran said if the police do not receive any more information, it likely will be officially termed a "suspicious incident."

Hanover Police Detective Rick Paulsen said there are "no witnesses to say he had been assaulted." But Paulsen said one person told Hanover Police that there had been a "little scuffle" between members of Chi Heorot fraternity and Theta Delta Chi fraternity at an off-campus party. Coleman is a pledge at Theta Delt.

"The scuffle took place at an off-campus party in which [Coleman] wasn't even there," Paulsen said. "It was determined he was at other fraternities that night."

Paulsen said the police have traced Coleman's location up to 15 minutes before he was found in Russell Sage residence hall by Peter Yoo '98. Coleman said on Sunday that friends told him he had been in a fight, although he said he did not remember any such incident.

Paulsen said Hanover Police went to Heorot and Theta Delt Saturday to investigate the incident.

Theta Delt President Matt Bush '96 said Hanover Police came to Theta Delt and told the house that there "had been lots of arguments between Theta Delts and Heorots at an off-campus party."

Bush said he is not sure whether there is any connection between the alleged "scuffling" at the off-campus party and Coleman's injury.

"I don't really know a whole lot except some Theta Delts were at an off-campus party and it definitely was not a friendly atmosphere," Bush said. "I don't think there were any incidents at the party other than verbal shouting. This was the only physical incident, and it may not have even been related to the verbal shouting with the Heorots."

Bush said when Hanover Police came to his fraternity, members of Theta Delt said Coleman looked like he had been severely assaulted. He said no one mentioned at the time the possibility that the wounds were self-inflicted.

Bush said he wants the College and Safety and Security to "do their job" and try to resolve the matter.

Bush said he is frustrated because he said Safety and Security gave Coleman an alcohol violation, which Bush said they would not do if he had been in a fight.

"I would hope they would not just say, 'He fell down in the middle of the street,' " Bush said. "I mean, look at the psychical evidence and at least say it was more than that."

But Paulsen said some of the injuries, like marks and scrapes on Coleman's hands, indicated that Coleman may have fell.

Paulsen said that Coleman "only got a few stitches ... nothing indicating a deep wound."

"He's not saying he didn't get hit ... he just doesn't remember," Paulsen said. "It's possible he was punched ... In either case, alcohol was a factor."

Darren Peers '96, the former president of Heorot, said he does not think there is any connection between the off-campus party and Coleman's injuries.

"I don't think it's a house incident at all," Peers said. "I know there are a lot of rumors floating around campus that this is bad blood between two fraternities, but that's not the case at all."

"It's unfortunate what happened to this kid," he said. But Peers said this is an incident "between two people, and I hope it's not a brother of mine -- and I don't think it is -- but nonetheless it is between two people."

Peers said he is not even sure that Coleman was "beat up."

Peers also said he does not think there is "bad blood" between Heorot and Theta Delt. He said many Heorots and Theta Delts are "very good friends," and "for somebody to draw a conclusion that there is bad blood between the houses is really ridiculous."

"It kind of bothers me that a lot of people have jumped to some pretty rash conclusions with pretty minimal evidence," he said.