"It wasn't really much of a fight. It was basically just a beating," said freshman John 'JD' Haley, 19, who suffered a black eye, cuts and bruises while trying to protect his friend during the attack. "I've never seen anyone so mad, so violent. The kid was on a rampage."
Haley say police have asked them not to specifically identify their attackers, but he said they all know who their attackers are because some of them live in the same residence hall. Police responding to the call near the intersection of LaPorte Avenue and Shields Street on Friday night were told by dispatchers that someone called 911 to report he and his friends had just been beat up by a bunch of football players.
After hours in the hospital, and with his arms still bearing the marks where IVs were inserted, freshman Danny Gocha's eyes are swollen shut, and he has a shoeprint stamped onto his back. Haley suffered his injuries trying to protect Gocha.
Both Haley and Gocha were left bleeding with chipped teeth and taken to Poudre Valley Hospital, along with their other two friends who suffered lesser injuries.
Members of the football team have been apologizing all weekend to the four students about the incident that happened late Friday night in Fort Collins. CSU football player Trey Cassidy posted on Facebook that he worried the public would paint the entire team with the same brush.
"Well first off, I want to apologize for what my teammates have done to three students last night. I just talked to the students who were assaulted. I hang out in their hall regularly, and do not believe that there is any hostility between us," Cassidy wrote on a Facebook group where Haley had posted photos of his injuries. "I figured everyone else should know that not everyone on the team are like these athletes that get into fights every other weekend. But it is this select few... that get the rest of us labeled as a group, you would assume that everyone on campus would realize this. But let's face reality people, some people are going to label the entire team as hot headed people that can't be trusted."
Cassidy later added: "A group of football players jumped a few students, I am not allowed to really get into it but I can say they are currently suspended."
CSU football Coach Jim McElwain announced Saturday that he suspended three student-athletes for violation of team rules: junior defensive end Nordly Capi, junior linebacker Mike Orakpo and junior defensive end Colton Paulhus. McElwain has barred reporters from trying to contact football players without his permission, and refused to elaborate on his decision.
Haley and Gocha, 20, spoke to the Coloradoan and 9NEWS on Sunday at Corbett Hall.
They say they were leaving a party at LaPorte and Shields about midnight on Friday when an SUV loaded with fellow students drove past, its occupants yelling homophobic insults. When Gocha responded with the same insult, the SUV screeched to a halt and several men piled out, Haley said.
"You could just tell they were looking for a fight," Haley said. "They just started beating the back of Donny's head in."
Haley said he and their other two friends tried to protect Gocha while the much larger men kicked and punched him.
"I covered Donny's head with my body," Haley said. "We were all scared for his life. It froze me. You can't really put into words how disturbing it way. My only thought was to protect his head."
CSU spokesman Mike Hooker on Sunday said university officials are coordinating with Fort Collins Police on an investigation.
"If there's truth to these allegations, the university absolutely does not condone this kind of behavior," Hooker said. "At this point, the university can't comment on the investigation by the police, but they are very serious allegations."
And in a Facebook post, CSU's vice president for student affairs, Jody Donovan, said that once police finish their investigation, they will forward the report to the university's conflict resolution and student conduct services, which will also conduct an investigation.
"Depending upon the results of this investigation, sanctions will be applied," Donovan wrote in response to Haley's postings about the assaults. "Students who violate the law or university policies are held accountable for their actions. Colorado State University does not tolerate this behavior."
Written by Trevor Hughes of the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Fort Collins Coloradoan)