BETHLEHEM — Three Hatfield men and one from East Norriton have been charged with a reported hate crime against a Lehigh University student, according to Northampton County authorities.
Northampton County District Attorney Terence Houck announced the charges in a news release Tuesday.
Brandon John, 22, of East Norriton, is facing charges of simple assault and harassment; Michael Rosta, 21, of Hatfield, is facing charges of burglary and simple assault; Nabil Jameel, 22, of Hatfield, is facing charges of smple assault, and Cameron Graf, 22, of Hatfield, is facing charges of simple assault and harassment. None of the defendants have any relation to Lehigh University, according to the release.
The release stated:
On Saturday, April 15 around 2 a.m., the Lehigh University Police Department received a report of a possible fight at a residential building on the university’s Asa Packer Campus, located at 57 University Drive in Bethlehem.
Upon arrival, officers spoke with witnesses on scene who described a physical assault between the defendants and the victim. The victim will remain unidentified to protect his privacy.
Through investigation, officers learned the victim and two individuals were walking home in the area of Packer Avenue and Webster Street when a vehicle drove by and someone in the vehicle yelled a racial slur toward the victim, who is a Black male.
The victim spoke with police, and stated he ran after the vehicle after hearing the racial slur and hit his hands on the trunk of the vehicle. He further admitted he reached into the back driver’s side window but was only able to briefly touch one of the occupants before he disengaged with the vehicle and continued walking home.
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 victim stated once he made his way to his residence hall, he went to see a friend who resided inside the building. While inside, the victim used one of the bathrooms. When he exited the bathroom, the same males from the vehicle were waiting for him outside the bathroom and began to attack the victim. The victim was able to defend himself without injury, and was able to get away by hiding in a friend’s room inside the residence hall. The males were banging on the door yelling for the victim to come outside, but eventually left the area.
Officers spoke with a witness regarding the incident at the residential building on campus. The witness told police she was approached by a male who asked her if she lived inside the building. Assuming the male was friends with someone inside the building, she used her card to grant him access inside. The witness stated a group of males then came around the corner and entered the building.
When the witness went inside the residential building, she told police she overheard a commotion in the hallway and the male who initially asked her if she lived inside the building began banging on the door of the room where the victim had locked himself in. The witness stated to police she saw the male pull a small black firearm from the front of his waistband and either clicked off the safety or racked the slide. The male began ordering the door to be unlocked with the firearm in his hand, according to the witness.
Police were able to locate the original incident of the vehicle driving past the victim and his friends on security camera in the area of Packer Avenue and Webster Street. Through investigation, police tracked the vehicle and identified the driver as defendant Brandon John.
Police interviewed John, who admitted to being involved in an altercation with victim, and told police he was with Rosta, Jameel and Graf.
Each defendant admitted to police their involvement in this incident.
“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. I want to thank the Lehigh University Police for acting swiftly in their investigation to remove these individuals from our community,” Houck said.
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