Updated to include comments from the defendant’s legal representative.
ITHACA, N.Y. — The Ithaca Police Department has released the name of a Cornell University student they say is responsible for a possibly racially motivated assault.
John Greenwood, 19, was arrested and charged with third-degree assault Friday, a misdemeanor, after being accused of beating up a black Cornell University student and sending him to the hospital.
Police said further charges are pending and confirmed investigators are considering whether the assault was based on racial bias or could be considered a hate crime.
A photo of Greenwood was not provided, but university officials confirmed to the Cornell Daily Sun that Greenwood is white.
The victim told police he was walking home along Eddy Street in Collegetown when he found a group of white students arguing with his friends outside his home. The victim, who has not been identified, said the group got physical when he asked them to leave.
He was reportedly punched in the face several times, and members of the group yelled racial slurs at him. He was hospitalized and treated for a possible concussion and broken nose, according to the Cornell Daily Sun — he had neither.
Police responded to the 306 Eddy St. location and arrested Greenwood sometime that same night. It is unclear if any other students who were part of the dispute will face charges.
Raymond Schlather, Greenwood’s lawyer, claims Greenwood was not involved in the fight and said he’s confident that will become evident as more information about the case is disclosed.
University officials stated Greenwood and others allegedly involved may have belonged to an unrecognized fraternity. While that has yet to be confirmed and the fraternity has not been named by the university or police, Cornell’s Black Students Union stated it was the Chi Chapter of Psi Upsilon.
The alumni board of the fraternity did not confirm or deny the allegations, but announced on Tuesday immediate plans to close the Cornell-area chapter indefinitely, saying they’d continue their renovations to the building open it for “the use of student organizations at Cornell that are dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive student community,” the university announced.