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DSG pres. arrested for assault

With three weeks until the end of his term, the president of Duke Student Government was arrested and charged with assault early Sunday morning.

Around 2:34 a.m., Duke police officers responded to a fight outside Edens 3A. Upon arrival, officers dispersed the crowd and learned that several Duke students had beaten up a North Carolina Central University student. They also learned that the fight was the continuation of an incident earlier that evening. During a party in The Great Hall after the National Panhellenic Council's step show, a Duke officer had witnessed two individuals pushing and shoving each other. Both individuals--one of whom was the NCCU student--were escorted out of The Great Hall.

Three Duke students were arrested and charged with assault outside Edens 3A: senior and DSG President Joshua Jean-Baptiste, junior Michael Mitchell and senior John Njoku. Jean-Baptiste and Mitchell were released on a $1,000 bond and Njoku's bond was set at $2,500. Their court date is set for May 6.

Jean-Baptiste, who was charged with assault inflicting serious injury, could not be reached for comment.

Mitchell, an accomplished varsity wrestler, was charged with assault inflicting serious injury. He declined to comment.

Njoku, a former DSG treasurer, was charged with assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female and--for holding back a female Duke student who is friends with the victim--false imprisonment. The female student was held by Njoku while his friends continued to assault the victim. Njoku could not be reached for comment.

The victim was transported to the Emergency Department to be treated for his injuries, which he sustained to the right side of his eye, left side of his face and nose, left arm and back extending down to his waist.

Sophomore Tushar Kirtane witnessed the assault from his fifth-floor window, although he said his recollection was vague.

"I think it happened after a party because people were still dressed up," he said. "It turned into three other guys beating up one guy while other people tried to pull them off--it was pretty ruthless."

The fight continued "until someone ran up with a cell phone screaming, 'The cops are coming.' The three guys who were beating up the fourth guy left soon after that," Kirtane said.

At the time, Kirtane said, the victim seemed badly injured, but he got up on his own. However, the witness added there were blood stains on the sidewalk, washed away Sunday morning.

Future and current executive members of DSG met Sunday afternoon to discuss the situation.

"I think it's a regrettable instance, and I certainly don't condone those actions," said Justin Ford, a senior and DSG executive vice president. "In terms of DSG's response, we're working on it. We're talking about it with the new executive officers, and I'm sure it will come up at the Legislature meeting on Wednesday."

The incoming executive committee of DSG released a statement of its own: "We, the newly-elected DSG Executive Committee, feel that this has been a regrettable incident and do not condone acts of violence of any sort on Duke's campus. As members of the Duke Community, we believe this was an exercise of poor judgment and recognize that the DSG president and other student representatives should always strive to lead by example."

All three students arrested are members of the Kappa Omicron order of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at Duke. Senior Obi Amachi, president of the Alphas, could not be reached for comment.

The victim is a member of the NCCU chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Jason Dukes, president of the Sigmas at Duke, declined comment except to say that "the police have stepped in and it's all in the courts now, so it's just a paper process from here on out."

Alex Garinger contributed to this story.

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