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Saudi student is beaten, killed in Wisconsin

posted on: Nov 3, 2016


Photos and a poster were added Nov. 1, 2016, to a memorial outside a pizza parlor in Menomonie, Wis., to a University of Wisconsin-Stout student, Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, who was attacked and died a day later. Alnahdi, 24, was from Saudi Arabia.(Photo: Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

By Jesse Garza and Karen Herzog

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A University of Wisconsin-Stout student from Saudi Arabia died one day after being assaulted on a street in downtown Menomonie, Wis., about 70 miles east of Minneapolis, police and school officials said.

Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, 24, was a junior majoring in business administration who enrolled in 2015 at UW-Stout, according to a statement from the university, whose campus is in Menomonie.

“Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to Hussain’s family in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, and his friends at UW-Stout,” UW-Stout ChancellorBob Meyer said Monday in the statement.

“I want to make a personal appeal to anyone on campus or in the community who might have information that would help authorities locate the individual involved in the attack to come forward,” Meyer said.

An assailant described only as a white male about 6 feet tall assaulted Alnahdi shortly after 2 a.m. CT Sunday near a pizza restaurant, according to Menomonie police. Officers found Alnahdi unconscious and bleeding from his mouth and nose before he was hospitalized and died from his injuries Monday.

Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, 24, was assaulted Oct. 30, 2016,Linda Bark, who taught English as a second language to Alnahdi at Stout, said he was “very popular, very well liked.”

“He was eager to learn, an avid student,” she said. “He wanted to be an actuary. He had goals.”

About 150 of the 9,300 students at UW-Stout are from Saudi Arabia, the (Eau Claire, Wis.) Leader-Telegram reported in January. That’s about a third of the university’s international students.

“It’s a strong community, and he felt very safe and welcome here,” Bark said, mentioning that Alnahdi lived off campus with students from Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Midwest. “He loved people and making friends.”

A makeshift memorial has sprung up outside the Topper’s pizza where the injured Alnahdi was found.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Bark said. “I was hoping I could stand here in silence and remember him.”

She left a plastic honey bee at the memorial because Alsahldi’s father sells honey in Saudi Arabia and he was very proud of that, she said.

“It is difficult to find the right words in light of such of a tragedy, except to express our sorrow for all that knew Hussain,” the University of Wisconsin System’s president, Ray Cross, said in a statement. Menomonie is about 250 miles northwest of Milwaukee and about 175 miles northwest of the University of Wisconsin’s flagship in Madison.

Police said the motive for the slaying is not yet clear. Some outside the department worry that it was a hate crime because of Alnahdi’s ethnicity and religion.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations identified Alnahdi as a Muslim and tweeted that the organization was monitoring the investigation into his death.

The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported Monday that hate crimes against Muslims in the Twin Cities and elsewhere across the USA are steadily ticking upward to levels not seen since right after Sept. 11, 2001 — even as other categories of hate crime appear to be on the decline.

Ursula Murray Husted, an assistant professor in comic and sequential art at the university, didn’t know Alnahdi personally but taught friends of his. In an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Husted said she is focusing on getting her students to the counseling center Tuesday.

“We lost a bright spark yesterday to an act of senseless violence,” Husted posted Tuesday on Twitter. “Hussain Saeed Alnahdi didn’t pass. He was stolen.”

A university admissions counselor, Bethany Risler, wrote in a Facebook post that she had recruited Alnahdi and that they had exchanged emails while he was learning English.

“My heart is breaking for his family. May he rest in peace,” she said in the post.