STATE COLLEGE (KDKA)- A Greensburg man has been charged, accused of intimidating a Penn State student because of his ethnicity.
Police say 19-year-old Nicholas Tavella, a student at Penn State, singled out another student, believing him to be of Middle Eastern or Asian descent. Police say Tavella grabbed the student by the throat and allegedly told him, “Don’t make me put a bullet in your chest.”
Police say Tavella followed the student, identified as Samjeris Victor, a man of Indian descent. Police say he followed the victim in downtown State College and through campus, asking whether he was going to rape someone.
The incident happened early Saturday morning on the main Penn State campus.
According to the affidavit obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tavella also threatened the victim and said he was going to follow him home. It said, “The victim attempted to elude him but the defendant caught up with him and stated: ‘Are you trying to get away from me?'”
Police say Tavella grabbed the victim by the throat and threatened to shoot him. Tavella claims the victim was acting suspiciously and he told police he was racially profiling the victim.
Tavella was arraigned on charges of ethnic intimidation, terroristic threats, simple assault, disorderly conduct, stalking and harassment. He was also cited for underage drinking.
He was released on $10,000 bail.
Penn State president Eric Barron released a statement on the incident:
“There is no place for hate, overt or subtle, at Penn State – such actions do not represent our mutually held values. Any violence that causes physical or emotional harm to any individual harms our entire community.”