Reward money totaling $20,000 was dangled before the public Wednesday in hopes of determining who killed a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout during an assault around bar closing time in downtown Menomonie over the weekend.
Police have yet to make an arrest in the death of 24-year-old Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, a junior from Saudi Arabia, and have only a vague description of a man who was seen about 2 a.m. Sunday running from the scene, the 400 block of Main Street E., outside Topper’s Pizza.
At a news conference at the western Wisconsin school’s Memorial Student Center, Chancellor Bob Meyer announced a $15,000 reward for information leading to whoever is responsible for Alnahdi’s death.
“It is absolutely essential that we use all of our resources to find the person responsible for Hussain’s death,” Meyer said, adding that the reward is being funded by private donations and the UW-Stout Foundation.
“Many people are looking for ways to help the police find the assailant,” Meyer said, “and we hope this fund will generate the information needed to lead to an arrest and conviction.”
Another $5,000 has been put up as a reward by a major Muslim civil rights group.
The attack occurred as many people were decked out in Halloween costumes and visiting various bars and other nightspots.
Alnahdi, who was studying business, died Monday afternoon at a hospital in nearby Eau Claire.
When asked earlier whether the assault could have been a hate crime directed at someone from the Middle East, Police Cmdr. Todd Swartz said, “That cannot be confirmed at this time. The motivation of the offender is unknown right now.”
In a blog posting Tuesday evening, Meyer called for patience as investigators pursue a motive for the killing.
“It is a normal reaction in a time like this to look for reasons for this tragedy,” he wrote. “I certainly have many questions and concerns that I wish we had answers to about what led to Hussain’s assault. … It is vitally important that no one jumps to any conclusions about what may have precipitated this attack before the facts are known.”
The national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), meanwhile, announced Wednesday that it is putting up a $5,000 reward and asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation.
“We are offering this reward to help police apprehend the perpetrator and to determine the motive for this senseless crime,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “The deadly attack on a Muslim student comes at a time of rising anti-Muslim incidents nationwide, which raises concerns about a possible bias motive.”
Chiranjeevi Kadam, vice president of UW-Stout’s International Relations Club and a senator in the Stout Student Association, said Monday in a Facebook posting that the association “is following this closely. … [We] want to make sure we know the facts before taking action.”
Alnahdi, who grew up in the north-central Saudi city of Buraydah, enrolled at UW-Stout in 2015. Enrollment in fall 2015 at UW-Stout totaled 9,535, with 4 percent of those being from outside the United States.
Anyone with information about Alnahdi’s death is asked to call police investigator Kelly Pollock at 1-715-231-8511. Anonymous information can be submitted at 855-847-3866 and at http://dunncocrimestoppers.com.