Novelist Colum McCann came to New Haven to spread a story about healing. Before he got the chance, he landed in the hospital with a bloodied head after trying to be a “Good Samaritan.”
McCann (pictured) was attacked outside The Study at Yale Saturday night.
That was somewhat ironic given the reason the New York-based author of the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin was in New Haven. He came to address a Sunday event at Southern Connecticut State University hosted by Narrative 4, an organization McCann helped found along with other writers to “promote empathy through the exchange of stories.”
He never made it to the Sunday panel. (Click here for a Hartford Courant account of the panel, which drew teachers and students from Newtown).
Police were called to the Study at 10:06 p.m. Saturday.
Officers arrived to find McCann on the sidewalk, bleeding from the head after having apparently been knocked to the sidewalk, police said.
The author was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was released later night and returned to New York City. Police Chief Dean Esserman called him the following day at his home.
As of Tuesday evening, police had not made any arrests in the attack.
“We have an active investigation being conducted,” said Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso. “Right now we do not believe it was a random street attack.”
“What we believe happened is that the victim tried to intercede in what appeared to be a domestic dispute between a man and a woman. He saw a woman pushed to the ground. He tried to assist the woman. He asked the woman if she wanted him to call the police. He urged her to do so. She said she didn’t want to call the police. The guy said, ‘It’s your decision.’ He turned around, began to walk away, and he was assaulted.”
“We’re not sure yet” who assaulted him, Generoso said.
“He was completely innocent. He was trying to be a Good Samaritan.”
The argument between the man and the woman had begun inside the hotel, according to Generoso.
McCann “does not wish to speak publicly at present” about what happened in New Haven, according to his literary agent, Sarah Chalfant.
posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 2, 2014 1:28am
Oh Crap, Blood in the Streets again…..
This is a disheartening story, and more bad PR for New Haven, but then there is always William S. Burroughs’ Sage Advice—Never get in the middle of a guy and girl fight!
posted by: Shaggybob on July 2, 2014 10:45am
So now the Chief of Police is making followup calls for simple assaults?
I didn’t get a call when I was robbed, guess you have to be VIP.
posted by: cupojoe on July 2, 2014 12:18pm
We are all VIPs, but that the Chief took the time to call on this makes me very proud to call myself a New Havener.
This is not New Haven - we are all better than this.
posted by: Ravenclaw on July 2, 2014 12:31pm
How disheartening. But I imagine the NHPD are up to the job. The fight began inside the (small) hotel, so the desk clerk probably has a pretty clear idea who was involved. Not to mention security camera footage. Doesn’t seem like we need Sherlock Holmes or Easy Rawlins for this one.
posted by: CMS on July 2, 2014 6:54pm
With all due respect to Bill Saunders, a woman being pushed to the ground in a public argument does not sound like a “guy and girl fight” but abuse and assault and battery. This is all of our business.
posted by: sbrad4510 on July 2, 2014 7:34pm
An assault you say, at the study at yale! Involving two patrons exiting that fine establishment? Aw, say it ain’t so!
posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 2, 2014 9:38pm
I am certainly not saying the behavior is acceptable in any way, but I think what the quote is saying is that intervention may not be wise.
posted by: Proud New Havener on July 3, 2014 12:22pm
Bill, it may not be prudent, but it is wise to intervene, even if you end up getting knocked about or look like an idiot, because you may have misunderstood the situation—everybody has to take a hard line against violence and reinforce the idea that it is not acceptable
posted by: sbrad4510 on July 3, 2014 1:17pm
What I find so ironic about this story, sad as it is, is that these people involved in the original assault were obviously patrons of a Yale establishment. Yale has been in the past so persuasive in frightening visitors to their campus of the violence around the Yale campus that you have people literally calling taxis to be taken from one side of the street to the other. Perhaps the university should warn visitors that much of the violence in New Haven actually exist right on the Yale campus and within the walls and halls of it’s august institution.
posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 3, 2014 1:20pm
Proud New Havener,
I am not going to get into a Miriam Webster contest with you here, but one of the definitions of ‘prudent’ is “wise or judicious in handling practical affairs’.
Would I have intervened? Maybe, depending on the circumstances.
posted by: Proud New Havener on July 3, 2014 2:08pm
Hi Bill, I am using the term in a more technical sense than you—I used ‘prudence’ to refer to acting according to (‘unenlightened’) self-interest. It is prudent to avoid trouble and not get yourself hurt, but it is wise sometimes to disregard prudency and act altruistically.
posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 3, 2014 2:09pm
Or maybe The Study should up its Security Detail in the Lobby.
posted by: Proud New Havener on July 3, 2014 2:39pm
Bill, terminology aside, I think it should be the common ethic to get involved and deescalate situations (and work on them productively to solve problems after they have been calmed)—that should be the ethic in the home, classroom, workplace and street.
In a situation like this, it is rarely necessary to physically intercede between two fighting people, but just staying where you are and yelling at them to knock it off can be enough. Often you just need to interrupt the process for people to start calming down—having a stranger yell at you can be intimidating enough to do that.
However, having a stranger physically come up upon you and intercede can feel extremely threatening to some people and escalate the situation. People often get into fights, and they don’t always need a savior. This can be a tricky situation if you consider yourself a good man and see a woman in a fight. You might accidentally escalate the situation despite only having the best intentions, so I understand your point about being hesitant to become involved.
We should be involved though, even if it is something we are uncertain of. There are ways of deescalating situations, so we should employ them, like calling the police, yelling and staring—most people don’t like being seen doing wrong, so that is often enough. For those few people who that doesn’t work on (or when there is a group), and for those few times when there is immediate physical violence being committed, then we need to employ something else.
I think that’s an important ethic to reinforce in a city where violence is just a little more common than it is elsewhere (at least near us).
posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 3, 2014 2:55pm
Proud New Havener,
I don’t disagree with many of your points, but I do believe THE STUDY needs to do something to protect the safety and welfare of its clients.
That onus should not be a ‘guest’s’ responsibility.
posted by: why! on July 6, 2014 2:18pm
Mr.Bill Saunders sometimes its wise not to comment, I tried but my emotions would not let me not comment on this one. My family recently loss a member. Our Son 22 was killed, and the older Son 26 injured physically and physiologically. They got involved in a similar situation In Providence RI. March 2,14. They are both from New Haven. My They where coming to the aid of a couple they did not know or ever seen before that moment. The Couple were being attacked by three Men. They first tried to get help from others but were unsuccessful so they tried to calm things down per police record and witness. I am very proud of my sons even with the pain that we bare daily and for the rest of our lives. Your comment “William S. Burroughs’ Sage Advice—Never get in the middle of a guy and girl fight!”. Is very thoughtless and insensitive. What if it were a female member of your family. I guess your comment would have been different. Maybe something Like, Thank You Mr.Colum McCann for caring about another human being your a real Man!
Mr. Saunders do you know that “Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Its 2:16 pm do you know were you female family members are ?