A 21-year-old Kalamazoo Valley Community College student was assaulted by an unspecified number of persons on Friday, Feb. 11 around 12:45 a.m., according to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division Captain, Victor Ledbetter.
Police have no information on about possible suspects as the victim Alexander Shufelt was unable to give the investigators many details about his assailants and as of yet, no witnesses who could describe the suspects have been found either.
A video was given to investigators which showed a group of people around Shufelt while at least one person assaulted him, but according to Ledbetter, the video does not clearly show the people in the group or how many of them were actively involved in the assault.
Witnesses told KDPS that that Shufelt was hit and stomped, and as of yet there has been no evidence of the use of weapons in the assault. Though investigators are waiting for the victim’s medical records to confirm whether or not weapons were used, there is evidence to suggest that Shufelt may have also been dragged along the ground by his attackers.
Shufelt was inebriated at the time; he was at nearly three times the legal driving limit, Ledbetter said. Shufelt’s father, David Shufelt, said he had been drinking from a cup of Fireball Whisky that he had been given.
“Did he make a lot of mistakes that night? Yes, being out of control is one of them,” David Shufelt said. “You can’t go to these parties without maintaining your control.”
Ledbetter shared a similar sentiment.
“First of all, if you’re going to drink, be of age,” Ledbetter said. “If you are of age be able to handle what you drink.”
The automotive repair student’s assault gained a lot of attention after his mother, Melissa Shufelt, made a Facebook post on Feb. 16 that received 244 reactions and 1,024 shares, some of which were to Western Michigan University.
At the time of the post, the family believed that there was a possibility that there may have been some involvement from WMU athletes since Alexander Shufelt was invited by a friend to a party that was related to WMU’s cheer team the night of the attack. The post lamented the treatment the family claims to have had when they tried to talk with WMU’s Athletic Department about the case.
“We have been to the athletic director's office at WMU who seem to be more interested in protecting their students than helping to find who did this to my son,” the post stated.
However, David Shufelt took a new perspective on the matter after more information on the case came to light.
“In retrospect, we didn’t have enough information to go on,” he said. “Since my visit to the athletic department, it seems that the investigation is going in another direction. At this point, unless new information surfaces, I don’t think it involves any of the athletes,” Shufelt said. “My experience with [WMU’s] athletic department is not very positive, but quite frankly I don’t care that it’s positive. I’m just looking for information on who assaulted my son.”
WMU’s Athletic Department Director, Kathy Beauregard, said that WMU athletes no longer seem to be pertinent to the investigation, and insisted that her department has cooperated fully with KDPS to help in any way they could, a position that Ledbetter agreed with.
“The athletic office has been more than supportive,” Ledbetter said. “You can’t, as a parent, come up there and demand to speak to athletes and things like that. If you have that mindset and you’re not allowed of course you are going to feel like they’re not being supportive. But, there are processes that people have to follow for protection.”
The family has set up a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and has set up firstname.lastname@example.org as an email for anyone with information to contact them through.
“As a 50-year-old man, I would hope that the people that did this assault would realize that one day they’ll have kids,” David Shufelt said. “I hope that they don’t have to sit around wondering what the hell went on, grasping for straws, trying to figure out what happened to their kid. My job is to protect him.”
Ledbetter said that anyone with information could call KDPS’ dispatch number at (269)-337-8994, through which they could ask to speak to him directly or to a Detective Jon Schipper.
“As we work on this case and get information, it would be helpful that people only provide eyewitness testimony,” Ledbetter said. “People tell me things third-hand, fourth-hand doesn’t help. It might be a tip-worthy, but don’t think just because the street said ‘this’ or ‘that’ that’s actually what happened.”