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Charges: Huskies wrestler attacked student-athlete who went to check on woman screaming

The attack left the victim with multiple facial fractures.
EZAYAH MARCELL GOMEZ OROPEZA - booking photo Stearns Co jail

A St. Cloud State wrestler is accused of assaulting another Huskies student-athlete who'd come outside to check on things after hearing a woman scream.

Ezayah Gomez-Oropeza, 20, was charged Thursday with third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm. The charges allege the Burnsville native picked up the victim — identified by family as 20-year-old Chadwick Waldrop — threw him to the ground, then punched him even after he'd fallen unconscious.

The attack happened in the early hours of Sept. 18, outside of Waldrop's residence on the 700 block of 8th Street South in St. Cloud. Witness accounts and surveillance video suggest Gomez-Oropeza had been arguing with a 20-year-old woman on the sidewalk nearby, with the wrestler attacking Waldrop after he came out to see what was going on, according to the charges.

Waldrop, a swimmer for the Huskies, suffered numerous facial fractures, with an emergency room doctor describing his face as a "jigsaw puzzle," according to a GoFundMe. He will have to undergo reconstructive surgeries, the first of which was done this week to realign his jaw. He'll be on a liquid diet, as "several metal bars" are currently affixed to his upper and lower gums. 

Gomez-Oropeza is listed as a 285-pound sophomore from Burnsville, who went to Rosemount High School. The university, prior to criminal charges being filed, said the student believed to have been involved was suspended from the team pending an investigation.

He made his first court appearance Thursday. An omnibus hearing is set for Dec. 16 at 11 a.m.

According to the criminal complaint:

Waldrop told investigators he'd arrived home and heard a woman scream. He went outside to check and asked, loudly, if everything was all right. "Mind your own f------ business," Gomez-Oropeza told him. He then turned around, then heard footsteps and was tackled before falling unconscious.

Witness accounts and surveillance video from a nearby building provide additional details.  

A witness said they'd been awake in their bedroom at the time and looked out the window after hearing a woman yell. They said Gomez-Oropeza was hitting a fence and looked angry. They then saw Waldrop emerge from his residence and approach Gomez-Oropeza and his female colleague, though not in a "confrontational" manner. The witness then watched Gomez-Oropeza punch Waldrop three or four times, including after he was on the ground.

Surveillance video shows the assault lasted about 5 seconds, with Gomez-Oropeza lifting Waldrop from the sidewalk then throwing him to the ground before punching him.

The woman Gomez-Oropeza had been with yelled, "Why would you do that?" Surveillance video, which corroborates the witness' account, then shows the woman immediately go to help Waldrop.

After the attack, Gomez-Oropeza knocked on the door where Waldrop lived, said he'd "knocked out" their friend. Then he carried Waldrop to the door. Waldrop's roommates say he stumbled in, bloody and incoherent.

When officers arrived, he was reluctant to seek medical care, but eventually relented. 

Officers who responded to the scene found Gomez-Oropeza and the 20-year-old woman walking nearby. He initially said nothing happened, but eventually admitted to punching Waldrop, claiming it was self-defense after Waldrop continued to come after him. Gomez-Oropeza said he "did not have a knife, did not have a gun, so I hit him."

He was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 28, after investigators had obtained witness accounts and the surveillance video.

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