Bryant president forms task force to investigate break-in, assault


SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — The president of Bryant University has created a special task force to look into a recent altercation that resulted in the arrests of three student-athletes.

The three students, Joseph Kasperzyk, 19, of New Haven, Conn., Zahir Williams, 20, of the Bronx, NY, and Shelton McNeal, 20, of Lakeland, Fla., are accused of breaking into a townhouse on campus and assaulting two residents inside.

All three men were arrested Sunday on charges of breaking and entering, simple assault, disorderly conduct and conspiracy and released on $1,000 surety bail.

In a letter to the university community, President Ronald Machtley said those three students have been placed on interim suspension and are not allowed to live in the residence halls. The students will, however, get to continue their studies pending a student conduct hearing.

He also said Smithfield police believe additional students may be charged in the incident.

On Tuesday, a student who said they witnessed the incident told Eyewitness News 15 student-athletes broke into a townhouse before assaulting two students inside. The witness said one student suffered a two black eyes and had to go to the hospital for stitches; the other student reportedly had a facial injury. 

The task force, which consists of several professors and university officials, will conduct an investigation into what led up to the incident and will present a “Fact Finding Report,” according to Machtley.

“Their investigation will seek to determine all the relevant facts, including whether a bias incident occurred,” Machtley said.

Machtley said he plans to have a retired judge oversee the student conduct hearings to “ensure that all matters have been handled with complete impartiality, resulting in fair recommendations.”

“I will remind everyone once again that Bryant will not tolerate physical violence or racial bias of any kind on our campus,” Machtley added. “This incident does not reflect the Bryant I know and love, as do you.”

Several weeks ago, the university held a community discussion after a student reported that another student yelled a racial slur at him on campus. In the letter, Machtley also commended the “tremendous turnout and great dialogue” from the event.

“We are a community of scholars made up of many diverse individuals from many backgrounds, cultures, and countries,” he said. “We must return to our practice of resolving any differences through discussion and avoid hurtful and inflammatory words or confrontations. Bryant is a special place and we must cherish and work to maintain our strong sense of community.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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