Two stabbing incidents barely 24 hours apart broke out in State College this weekend, leaving five men — all 22 years old and younger — injured, the State College Police Department said.
Police said it’s unclear at this point whether the two incidents were related, and investigations into both are ongoing. Police could not say whether those injured were Penn State students.
At about 2 a.m. Saturday, the first incident erupted during a Homecoming party held at the Knights of Columbus, 850 Stratford Dr., police said.
Three men suffered “life-threatening stab wounds” and were flown via Life Flight to nearby hospitals, police said. Two of them, both 21, were flown to Geisinger Hospital and another, 19, was flown to Altoona Hospital, police said. Their medical conditions were unknown by press time Sunday.
Penn State student Nigel Wilson organized the party as a celebration for Homecoming, police said. The event was originally supposed to be a dry function with about 300 guests, Knights of Columbus Club Manager Lionel Bassett said. Wilson could not be reached for comment.
Bassett said the party kicked off at about 10 p.m., and guests were checked at the door for alcohol and weapons. Most of the guests were in their late teens and early-to-mid-twenties, Bassett said.
By 12:30 a.m., Bassett said event supervisors stopped admitting people because the banquet hall had reached its 450-person capacity, but a large crowd still remained outside — increasing the total number of people on the Knights of Columbus property to about 600, he said.
The conditions inside — hot, crowded and hectic, Bassett said — were prime for the mood to turn “rowdy” as the party went on, and a fight erupted on the dance floor just 10 minutes before the event’s 2 a.m. end time.
Supervisors and security personnel asked all of the guests to leave, he said, but the brawl continued even as it moved into the back corner of the parking lot.
After the fight failed to die down, Bassett said event personnel called police but were told law enforcement was already on its way.
After things calmed down, Bassett said he found bottles of vodka, cans of Four Loko and water bottles filled with alcohol scattered through the parking lot.
Bassett said Saturday’s party will be the last late-night event at the Knights of Columbus. To him, he said, the threat of more incidents like Saturday’s is too dangerous to the organization, which is founded on a commitment to bettering the community.
“This is a black eye as far as the Knights go,” Bassett said. “It could potentially take years to rebuild what happened in one night.”
Nearly one day later, two more men were stabbed at about 2 a.m. Sunday when a fight involving dozens of people began inside 797 Lounge, 244 W. College Ave., and spilled out onto the 100 block of South Burrowes Street, police said.
One of the men, 21, was identified at the scene and transported to Mount Nittany Medical Center via ambulance, police said. The second man, 22, was brought to Mount Nittany Medical Center later that night by his friends, police said.
The area surrounding 797 Lounge was a focal point for police on Saturday night. About an hour before the larger fight broke out, there were reports that a fight was already in progress outside of the lounge, but it was gone when officers arrived, police said.
At 2:11 a.m. — roughly the same time the fight occurred — a woman was shoved several times by a man inside the lounge after she refused advances from him, police said. About 15 minutes later, police said a different man and a woman were engaged in a physical fight outside the lounge. Police could not say whether either of the two incidents were related to the stabbing.
About an hour after the area quieted down, police said a woman reported her purse was stolen from the lounge during the “mass altercation.”
The reports of off-campus violence came as disturbing news to University Park Undergraduate Association President Christian Ragland, who said he’ll be contacting leaders around the community to try to address safety issues.
Ragland (senior-political science) said the timing of the incidents — in the middle of Penn State’s Homecoming celebrations — made them all the more unfortunate.
“This was our week to celebrate Penn State, and for students and alumni this is a horrible way to do that,” Ragland said.