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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A young woman from South Amboy remains hospitalized after being knocked into a coma for more than a week, rendered unconscious by a man who punched her in the face during a Halloween weekend streetfight in New Brunswickt.
However, the man who threw that punch, Dan Murray, remains free and police say they won’t arrest or charge him because video shows Emily Rand striking him first.
Rand, who is apparently wearing a Halloween costume, is shown hitting her head on the pavement after the punch in the “Snapchat” video which later aired on local television.
Murray apparently fled the scene immediately, leaving the 19-year-old woman on the pavement near the corner of Hamilton and Robinson Streets as bystanders yelled and screamed.
Rand, who attends Middlesex County Community College and works at Macaroni Grill, was left with a fractured skull, a bleeding brain, and a concussion in the incident.
She has been hospitalized ever since the incident.
Rand’s relatives told a television program that the altercation stemmed from Murray’s group of male friends shouting derogatory terms at Rand and her female friends.
It was one of at least three aggravated assaults police are investigating from that holiday weekend, which often turns chaotic in New Brunswick.
The incident has attracted media attention and community outrage after the extent of the injuries to Rand became known, and after police revealed they were not going to charge the young man who hit her.
Told that family members of the victim were spreading the word about the terrifying incident, hoping that shining a light on the case would lead to an arrest, police insisted they had it all “fully under control.”
“We have that case under control, there’s no danger to the public,” said New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) Captain JT Miller at the November 2 City Council meeting.
“We can’t control what family members do. A lot of times their emotions, you know, put them in their own direction,” said Miller, who also noted that “the victims are getting all the attention they deserve.”
But just a few days later, journalists learned that the NBPD had identified, located, and interviewed the suspect but did not pursue charges against him.
That’s because, although video of the incident circulated on social media is inconclusive about who started the fight, Rand is shown striking Murray in the face seconds before the knockout blow.
“I’m really unhappy about [the lack of criminal charges against Murray],” said Rand’s best friend Beth Noble in an interview with Chasing News’ Rohan Mohanty. “Personally… his punishment is not as important to me as her recovery.”
Authorities left the door open to criminal charges in the future, but said that Rand would have to wake up and provide more information.
As of November 11, she was starting to wake up but was still unable to speak. She continues to be fed through a tube and hooked up to a ventilator, but is making progress in her recovery.
Rand’s friends and family have already raised $5,300 to go towards her medical bills on the online fundraising website GoFundMe, thanks to 88 donors.
On December 3 at 7pm, her supporters are also hosting a fundraiser at Sacred Heart Memorial Hall in South Amboy.
Despite being the investigating agency, the NBPD did nothing to publicize the incident.
Instead, it was the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) who publicized the incident in a crime alert that included a trio of aggravated assaults, each listed as occurring on October 30.
But RUPD got one key piece of information wrong in the alert.
Captain Miller confirmed that this incident actually occurred on October 29, not the date that RUPD had advertised in their triple crime alert.
However, RUPD Chief Kenneth Cop and Deputy Chief Michael Rein did not respond to multiple follow-up inquiries, and ultimately did not issue a correction.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.