Police: Student made up attack

Ignacio Calderon
The Chicago Police Department reported that the female student who falsely reported being stabbed March 6 in Grant Park had admitted to making up the story.

After reports that a female Columbia student was stabbed in Grant Park late in the night on March 6, police say the woman confessed she faked the incident.

A March 7 Crime Advisory alert from the college reported a 23-year-old female had been in Grant Park late Wednesday night when she was robbed by a “heavyset black male, six feet tall, between 25­­­–30 years of age, with short hair, wearing a green puffy jacket and blue jeans.” She said she told the perpetrator she had no money and handed over her debit card. She told the Chicago Police Department the perpetrator then stabbed her three times and fled at about 9:50 p.m.

The woman walked to 7-Eleven, 535 S. State St., and asked an employee to call the police. According to the Crime Advisory, she was then taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in stable condition and treated for non life-threatening injuries. She spoke with her mother, and Columbia personnel were with her at the hospital.

CPD Public Relations Coordinator Howard Ludwig said after a review of surveillance footage, the incident was unfounded and did not occur as reported.

The Chicago Tribune reported March 7 the student later admitted to CPD officers the attack never took place.

Ludwig told The Chronicle charges for falsifying a police report are possible. Charges had not been filed as of press time.

Columbia’s Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications Mark Rosati declined to comment.

The 7-Eleven employee on shift with a co-worker said it was around 10:45 p.m. when the student came into the store. He was not surprised she had faked the attack because of the oddly shaped pattern of brightly-colored blood on her gray leggings and the way she stood covering her abdomen with her jacket, he said.

The employee said she was calm and “didn’t seem traumatized.” He identified her as a tall, Caucasian woman with light hair.

He said police sounded “hesitant upon arrival” and questioned her for about 15 minutes before paramedics put her on a stretcher, on which she sat upright.

The employee added he overheard the police ask many more questions and one officer say, “Oh, that’s strange.”

Students thought the incident was strange  because the 23-year-old identified the alleged perpetrator as a black male.

Sophomore radio major Malaysia White said at first she felt concerned that a woman had been stabbed alone at night, but upon hearing it was faked, said incidents like this give black people and Chicago a bad rap.

“Chicago is not always a bad place. [An incident like] her stabbing makes our crime look worse than it is,” White said.

Sophomore radio major Jori Roberts added that the student’s actions were not fair to the school, and she even sent prayers to the woman during a WCRX broadcast after the initial report.

“The school really felt for you; the students really felt for you,” Roberts said. “A lot of students called their parents as soon as they got the first update, [and] they’re like, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. I feel unsafe.’ It is making our school look bad; it’s making our school have a bad reputation. It’s making Chicago have more of [a] bad reputation. It just makes black people have a bad reputation.”

Multiple students were reminded of the Jussie Smollett incident that occurred Jan. 29, in which Smollett alleged he had been the victim of a violent hate crime in Streeterville, but police later said the attack was made up.

University of Chicago student Celeste Cruz-Carandang, who lives in the South Loop, said she was appalled by the racial stereotype, but believed the woman may have made up the attack because of a mental health problem.

“I do think there’s something more because it seems like there was some sort of mental health crisis involved,” Cruz-Carandang said. “We shouldn’t be as quick to judge, especially if it is such a young woman, and [it] seems like there is an obvious crisis there.”