MENOMONIE, Wis. — A University of Wisconsin-Stout student from Saudi Arabia died Monday, one day after being assaulted on a street in downtown, Menomonie police and school officials said.
Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, 24, was a junior majoring in business administration who enrolled in UW-Stout in 2015, according to a statement from the university.
Alnahdi was assaulted shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday near Topper’s Pizza on Main Street East by an assailant described only as a white male, about 6 feet tall, according to Menomonie police.
Police found Alnahdi unconscious and bleeding from his mouth and nose before he was hospitalized and died from his injuries Monday, according to police and university officials.
Linda Bark, who taught Alnahdi English as a second language at Stout, said he was “very popular, very well liked.”
“He was eager to learn, an avid student,” Bark said. “He wanted to be an actuary. He had goals.”
Bark said there are a number of Saudi students at Stout. “It’s a strong community and he felt very safe and welcome here.”
Alnahdi lived off campus, she said, with students from Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Midwest. “He loved people and making friends.”
Bark spoke to reporters near a makeshift memorial outside the pizza restaurant.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” she 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 sold honey in Saudi Arabia and he was very proud of that, Bark said.
“Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to Hussain’s family in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, and his friends at UW-Stout,” UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer said 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.
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross also expressed his condolences to Alnahdi’s family.
“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,” Cross said in a statement.
Police said the motive for the slaying is not yet clear, but on social media there was concern about the possibility that it could be a hate crime.
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.
Many others expressed sympathy and outrage.
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. “Their well being is my only priority,” she said.
Early Tuesday morning, Husted posted on Twitter: “We lost a bright spark yesterday to an act of senseless violence — Hussain Saeed Alnahdi didn’t pass. He was stolen.”
Bethany Risler, an admissions counselor at the UW-Stout, wrote in a Facebook post that she recruited Alnahdi and the two exchanged emails while he was still learning English.
“My heart is breaking for his family. May he rest in peace,” she said in the post.
(Journal Sentinel staff writer Maggie Angst contributed to this story.)
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