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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2004

Police try to sort out UT student melee

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mark Heck should have been in class yesterday, the first day of the autumn semester at the University of Toledo.

Instead, the prebusiness sophomore was in a Toledo Hospital bed, recuperating from an arm injury sustained during an assault at a party in a West Toledo duplex.

City and university police detectives spent the day interviewing more than a dozen witnesses about the melee early Sunday in the upper part of a house at 2155 Alvin St. Some UT football players were involved, but police have not determined their roles, Detective Vince Mauro said.

No criminal charges have been filed yet. Investigators are trying to identify the aggressors and what the partygoers saw. Finding people was difficult because some were in class and others were at work. Detectives have at least 10 more people to interview.

"It's not a race. We want to charge the right person with the right charge," Detective Mauro said.

University student judicial affairs officials are conducting their own interviews. The university will wait for criminal charges before it decides whether its student code of conduct was violated, UT spokesman Rebecca Shell said.

"We're not going to tolerate that kind of behavior on the part of our students," UT President Dan Johnson said. "This is a challenge for every metropolitan university in the country."

He said he was "very sorry" about the incident. University officials offered aid, including counseling, to the victims, their families, and other witnesses.

"The university is still investigating the situation. Our football program is prepared to take swift and appropriate action regarding any of our players, if any were indeed involved, after the university completes its investigation," football coach Tom Amstutz said. He could not say what the disciplinary action would be.

Mr. Amstutz said would not comment on how many players were involved, nor would he name any players.

Mr. Heck, 20, was being treated yesterday morning and could have been released from the hospital by the afternoon. A hospital spokesman said she had no information on a patient by his name.

Peter Velotta, 22, a senior in human resource management, also was treated for injuries sustained in the assault. Mr. Heck and Mr. Velotta are members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Ms. Shell said.

Jarrod Harmon, 23, a freshman pre-business major, also was hurt, but police said he was not taken to a hospital. None of the men lived in the upper duplex, Detective Mauro said.

The off-campus residence is not a fraternity house, but fraternity members are believed to live in the upper unit, Ms. Shell said. She did not know to which fraternity they belong.

Police said a man involved in a fight at the house was kicked out of the party, which was attended by 50 to 100 people, most of them UT students. He said he was going to return with the football team and "shoot the place up." He returned a short time later with people and ran upstairs, where the victims were beaten.

No one answered the door at either the lower or upper unit at the Alvin duplex.

Blade staff writers Dave Hackenberg and Ryan E. Smith contributed to this report.

Contact Christina Hall at

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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