Tragedy Strikes Stout

Megan Hazuga, Joseph Gulotta and Matthew Gundrum-

We will continue updating this story with more information as we receive it. All images will be posted below.

The death of a student is a tragic event. Times such as these have the propensity to take a significant mental toll. If you are suffering with extreme feelings of loss, despair, depression or any other mental ailment brought on by this tragedy, please contact or visit the university’ Counseling Center to find assistance. There are always people there willing to help. If you’re interested in the center’s services, please call 715/232-2468 to make an appointment or visit http://www.uwstout.edu/counsel/ for more information.


[UPDATE 11/5/2016 9:42 p.m.]

On the evening of Friday, November 4, it was apparent that the memorial items left in front of Topper’s Pizza on the 400 block of Main Street East – where Stout student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi was fatally assaulted – were missing.

In an email from UW–Stout Archivist Heather Stecklein, it was assured that their absence was part of a planned effort to further memorialize Mr. Alnahdi’s death.

“The Mayor’s Office contacted me to tell me that they would be removing the items on Friday morning,” wrote Stecklein. “The Dean of Students contacted Hussain’s close friends to tell them about that plan and [gave] them the opportunity to remove anything they didn’t wish to see collected.”

According to Stecklein, this was the first step in conserving these memorial items.

“I requested that when the city decided to remove the memorial, they should collect every piece they removed and send it over to the Stout Archives. We will be offering relevant pieces to friends and family and preserving every piece of the remaining pieces to the best of our ability,” she affirmed.

These efforts to further memorialize the life of Mr. Alnahdi were not only made for the sake of his loved ones but for the sake of subsequent generations as well.

“We need future students and community members to be able to reflect upon the pieces,” said Stecklein. “We are even working with the Biology Department to preserve the flowers in the same way they preserve botanical specimens.”

Stecklein added that additional memorialization plans are currently underway.

“The campus is planning to develop a permanent memorial for Hussain,” she said. Stecklein clarified that if this sort of project were to happen – requiring the approval of many different on-campus parties such as the Campus Exteriors Committee – it would be far into the future.

In addition, Stecklein mentioned another prospective memorial effort – in which Saudi students would host a community meal in Mr. Alnahdi’s honor – was in the works.

Although the memorial items were removed on Friday morning by the Mayor’s Office with benevolent intent, Stecklein said that new objects had been placed there by “concerned” community members since then. The former items are currently safe and ready for preservation, but Stecklein said she was “touched by the community’s work to keep the memorial alive in front of Toppers.”

[UPDATE 11/4/2016 4:10 p.m.]

In a media release authored by Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson, it was announced that the investigation into the death of University of Wisconsin–Stout student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi was still ongoing.

The department has been working with a steady flow of information to quicken the investigation. They added that video recordings in relation to the incident were being reviewed.

“Currently, we are implementing all available resources to investigate the incoming leads and video surveillance that has been acquired,” said Chief Atkinson in the release.

The Menomonie Police Department has been extending it’s realm of overwatch as well.

“To bolster our investigative team, we have partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Stout Police Department and the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office,” said Atkinson. “We have also been in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The department continues to stress that racial motivation in the crime is yet to be determined.

“Additionally, the MPD has not been able to confirm if Hussain Alnahdi’s death was a hate crime. However, we will not dismiss the possibility until the MPD has concluded the investigation,” wrote Chief Atkinson.

[UPDATE 11/2/2016 9:13 p.m.]

In a press conference on Wednesday, November 2, the Menomonie Police Department and members of the University of Wisconsin–Stout gave an update on the investigation and handling of the tragedy.

Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson announced that no suspect has yet been identified: “Due this being an ongoing investigation, I cannot go into further details at this time.”

He did give more information on the timeline of events. Chief Atkinson described the events in the following order.

“Mr. Alnahdi was in downtown Menomonie during the morning of October the 30th shortly after 2:00 a.m. he was outside the business of Topper’s Pizza.”

Going on to describe the alleged perpetrator, the police chief said: “Mr. Alnahdi was then allegedly assaulted by an unknown male. The suspect was only described by witnesses as a Caucasian male approximately 6 feet tall. The suspect was seen running away westbound down Main Street Menomonie.”

Chief Atkinson then described the events that transcribed after the assault.

“Mr. Alnahdi was then provided medical attention by the Menomonie Fire Department. He was subsequently taken to the Lutheran Mayo hospital in Eau Claire to receive medical treatment. Mr. Alnahdi then passed away at Lutheran Mayo on October 31st 2016,” said Chief Atkinson.

Chief Atkinson continued. “On November 1st 2016 Mr. Alnahdi was taken to the University of Wisconsin Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Madison for a forensic autopsy exam.”

In an effort to further support the Menomonie Police department; University of Wisconsin–Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer announced there was a reward fund for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person who is responsible for Mr. Alnahdi’s death.

As of 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Chancellor Meyer and a representative from the Committee on American-Islamic Relations reported the reward totaled $20,000. This amount consisted of $15,000 from the Community Foundation of Dunn County and $5,000 coming from the Committee on American Islamic Relations.

While taking questions at the press conference, a reporter asked what made Chief Atkinson believe that this may be a hate crime incident. Police Chief Atkinson stressed that “it was important to keep an open mind.” However he went on to state that “right now, as I mentioned, we do not know the motivation of this crime”

Omar Alkohmos – a fellow student and friend of Mr. Alhnadi – stepped forward during the press conference to say a few words about the incident. Mr. Alkohmos said he was “happy by everyone’s support.”

When asked if he felt safe after the incident, Mr Alkohmos stated: “I have been here in Menomonie since 2012. My first year was here, [and I] never ever heard of [student violence like this]. We walk in the street [at four in the morning], we go drive and walk, go to our friend’s house… but it is something shocking, and we have never heard of it happening and it’s sad [that it happened] to an international student.”

When pressed if – after the alleged assault – he felt safe, Mr. Alkohmos responded: “For me, I’m not. For a lot of my friends, yes.”

Mr. Alhnadi was one of 142 Saudi Students currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. A memorial service in memory of Mr. Alhnadi is being held at the Amphitheater outside the Memorial Student Center on Thursday, November 3 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is open to the entire campus community.

[UPDATE 11/1/2016 1:02 p.m.]

Early Sunday morning, police were called to the 400 block of downtown Menomonie – near Topper’s Pizza – for a physical fight.

According to a report disseminated by the Menomonie Police Department, his condition worsened throughout the afternoon of Monday, October 31st, and he passed soon after.

His name was Hussain Saeed Alnahdi. He was 24-year-old international student from Saudi Arabia majoring in business administration. He had arrived at the University of Wisconsin–Stout last year and was still learning English. His roommates and closest friends are in the process of planning a memorial service for Hussain.

No arrests have been made in connection to his death, according to a statement made by Chancellor Bob Meyer. The assailant was described in Meyer’s statement as a white male – around six feet tall – who fled the scene.

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The incident took place after 2 a.m. near Topper’s Pizza on Main Street East. (Photo: Joseph Gulotta)
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A single candle sat outside the facade of Toppers on October 31, which is where the incident took place. (Photo: Joseph Gulotta)
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Community members gathered on the morning of November 1 for a vigil in the memory of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi. (Photo: Tracy Lea Landis)
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Memorial offerings grow near the site of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi’s death. (Photo: Joseph Gulotta)
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Students and community members alike have contributed to memorial offerings outside of Topper’s Pizza. (Photo: Joseph Gulotta)
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Images of Mr. Alnahdi and flowers adorn the facade of Topper’s Pizza on the 400 block of Main Street East in downtown Menomonie. (Photo: Joseph Gulotta)
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Campus and community came together on Thursday, November 3 for a memorial service in the name of slain UW–Stout student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi. (Photo: Blake Gerrits)
Alnahdi's friends, SSA representatives, and Saudi students all spoke at the memorial service on Thursday, November 3rd.
Alnahdi’s friends, SSA representatives and Saudi students all spoke at the memorial service on Thursday, November 3. (Photo: Blake Gerrits)
The memorial service concluded with a silent, candlelight vigil.
The memorial service concluded with a silent, candlelight vigil. (Photo: Blake Gerrits)