Ann Arbor police seek information, offer reward to help solve two 'brutal' assaults
Updated: 4:20 p.m. Friday
Jean-Claude Soloman was walking alone on Granger Avenue toward Packard Street on Oct. 9 — the night of the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University football game — when a short exchange of words led to a life-altering incident.
At about 10 p.m., Soloman passed a man and woman walking. The man said, "Go State," to which Soloman replied, "Go Blue." They engaged in a short exchange of profanity, but Soloman said he kept walking.
"I heard something behind me, as I looked back he punched me (in the face)," Soloman recalled.
Ann Arbor Detective Dave Monroe said that was one of two separate "brutal" assaults in October. Both remain unsolved, and Monroe said he needs help from the public to identify the assailants.
A $1,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in connection with either case, Monroe said.
"When I came to, somebody said they called 911, and I actually drove myself to the hospital," said Soloman, a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University accounting senior. "There was blood all over. I figured I probably shouldn't wait."
The attacker punched and kicked Soloman several times, both while he was standing and while he was on the ground, resulting in several chipped and broken teeth, a broken nose, a concussion, and injuries that required more than 100 stitches to his mouth, lips and chin.
The scene prompted five different people to call police, Monroe said.
Monroe said a witness recalled the woman who had been walking with the assailant saying, "You can't just leave this guy here." And, Monroe said, the woman waited with the victim for "a little while."
The attacker was described as possibly a dark-skinned white man, Latino or light-skinned black man, 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall and about 180 pounds. He was bald or had short hair.
Soloman said he didn't know the man.
"It happened really fast," he said. "I really didn't have time to think about anything."
While driving to the hospital, Soloman said he called his boss at the bank where he works as a personal banker to say he wouldn't be able to go in the next day.
Soloman said his nose remains broken, he lost one tooth at the scene and is at risk of losing three more. He said he missed about a week and a half of work and class after the attack, and it could be a year before his teeth are completely repaired.
"Just the dental work alone could cost $20,000 to $30,000 for the implants and stuff," he said.
Soloman urged anyone with information to call Ann Arbor police and advised people: "Don't walk alone at night."
In another assault that occurred on Oct. 15, an 18-year-old man was struck with a beer bottle at The Fifth Quarter, resulting in vision loss.
Monroe said the incident began with a verbal argument between the victim and another person at the bar. Then the assailant, who wasn't involved in the argument, interjected himself.
The man struck the victim once in the face with a beer bottle, causing severe injuries to the victim's right eye and mouth, Monroe said.
The victim's mother said her son, a U-M freshman, has suffered from vision loss in his right eye, which may be permanent. She asked that her name be withheld to protect the identity of her son.
The victim has had two surgical procedures on his eye and may need more, his mother said, as well as surgery to his mouth.
"I have to be optimistic, otherwise I would be crying every day," she said. "(My son) said, 'I can't imagine people who are blind. ... It's the scariest thing, Mom, the scariest thing in the world.'"
The attacker is described as a "college aged" white man with light brown hair that's "possibly somewhat curly in the back."
The victim's mother urged anyone with information regarding the assault to come forward.
"If you see something, you have to say something. It's the only way to be safe. ... Don't ever be afraid of being ostracized for doing the right thing," she said. "We will not rest until we find this kid. Whatever it takes."
The mother said her family may be willing to offer additional reward money to get the case solved.
Police initially said the assault could be connected to a member of a fraternity. But Monroe said "no fraternity issue(s)" were a factor in the incident.
Monroe described both incidents as "very unnecessary, brutal attacks."
Anyone with information on either assault is asked to call Det. Monroe at (734) 794-6930, ext. 49308, or e-mail the tip Line at TIPS@a2gov.org.
Heather Lockwood is a reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.