Police Monday night arrested a 34-year-old man for allegedly punching noted author Colum McCann outside the Study at Yale.
The man allegedly punched McCann (pictured), causing McCann to lose consciousness, according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman.
The attack took place around 10 p.m. Saturday night, June 28, on Chapel Street outside the Study. McCann, the New York-based author of the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin was in New Haven, was staying at the hotel in preparation for a Sunday appearance 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.”
A man and a woman were involved in a heated dispute inside the hotel lobby. McCann didn’t know them; he asked the woman if she was OK or needed help. She said she didn’t. McCann went outside—as did the man involved the dispute, who then allegedly hit him, bloodying his face and sending him to the hospital. He never made it to the Southern event the next day. Instead, he returned home to New York City.
Detectives investigating the case eventually tracked down the alleged assailant, who confessed to the crime and turned himself in for arrest, according to Hartman. Police charged him with second-degree family violence, breach of peace and second-degree assault.
“Detectives have learned [the suspect] and his wife had checked into the Study Hotel earlier that day. The couple left for drinks and returned a few hours later. Hotel staff informed them the credit card [the suspect] used hadn’t sufficient funds to pay for the room. It was reported this issue sparked a dispute between [the suspect] and his wife,” Hartman reported in a release.
In an interview with The New York Times, McCann expressed no “empathy” for his attacker.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to turn around and love my enemy,” the Times article quotes him as saying. “I’m angry about it. I would definitely feel empathy again for the woman in trouble, but I might do it differently. I might call the police. But the fact of the matter is there are things around that are inherently evil. I don’t necessarily have any empathy for him.”