Mechanical engineering senior John Dewing was punched in the face on Jan. 9 at Taco Bell off Santa Rosa Street. A potential suspect has been identified, but the case has not been completed, according to San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLO PD) Administrative Lieutenant John Bledsoe.
“There’s not much I can tell you because it’s an active investigation,” Bledsoe said. “We may have developed a suspect in this and we’re still looking for him to try to get an interview with him.”
Cal Poly parent Joanne Castoganolo Brown shared SLOPD’s post to the Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents Facebook page.
“My daughter’s best friend was assaulted and badly hurt,” Castoganolo Brown told Mustang News. “He and his friends were minding their own business when this bully started making fun of John’s [Asian] friends. He then sucker punched John as he told him to stop harassing his friends.”
Dewing said he and his friends went to Pint Night downtown and then to Taco Bell at the end of the night.
“We were sitting there at the table and these two kids came in, one of them had a pint glass. He dropped it on the floor and it shattered everywhere,”Dewing said.
Dewing’s roommate told the man to clean up the mess because the Taco Bell was understaffed. The man ignored his request and pretended not to notice the pint glass on the ground.
The two men then waited in line for their food and paid for it, which took about 15 minutes, according to Dewing.
“The kid who dropped the pint glass’s friend came over to our table and said, ‘Oh I’m surprised you saw that with your squinty ass eyes.’ My roommate is Asian,” Dewing said. “He was being generally racist … so I told him to go home, ‘Nobody wants to deal with you right now.’ Then he said, ‘OK, why don’t you stand up and say that to my face?’ and as I started to stand up, the kid sucker-punched me in the face and then just sprinted out of Taco Bell.”
Dewing’s assault resulted in a broken nose and concussion.
“For the record, I had no intention of punching this kid at all,” he said.
After the altercation, Dewing’s friends grabbed the man who dropped the pint glass and told him to stay there until the police showed up. A witness at Taco Bell then called the cops and took statements from Dewing and his friends about the incident.
They arrested the man who dropped the pint glass.
Dewing said he did not want to give him a criminal record and decided against pressing charges, but he did want his medical bills paid for.
The next day the police told Dewing they were still looking for the suspect.
After a month, Dewing had yet to hear from SLOPD and received his first bill for his broken nose. At that point, SLOPD posted the photos to Facebook asking for help finding the suspect.
“Supposedly after the Facebook post, SLOPD received a bunch of calls saying they know who the suspect was and then the Facebook post got changed to say the person has been identified,” Dewing said.
SLOPD called in Dewing to look at suspect photos, but he admitted that he had passed out so his memory was fuzzy.
Dewing’s roommates are currently waiting to look at the photos to identify the suspect as well.
“We think that we have identified a possible suspect and we still have to locate him and hopefully get a statement from his side of the story as to what happened,” Bledsoe said. “If he does not want to talk to us we have to go by what the evidence tells us and what statements of people that were there and witnessed it and go from there.”