The professor, 41-year-old Anurudha Udeni Dhammika Dharmapala, has expertise in law and economics, and tax policy. According to a witness account given to Champaign Police, both Dharmapala and the suspect were sitting in the Amtrak waiting area, when the suspect jumped up and shouted that this was his country. He then attacked Dharmapala, grabbing him around the neck. The witness then intervened, pulling the suspect away, and discovering he had stabbed his victim in the neck with a utility knife. Champaign County State’s Attorney Julie Rietz said other witnesses stepped forward to keep the situation under control until police arrived.
Dharmapala was taken to Carle Hospital in Urbana, but no information was available on his condition as of Thursday morning.
Police have charged 23 year old Joshua Scaggs, with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery. Bond has been set at $500,000 by the courts. According to the assistant State’s Attorney Steve Ziegler he decided not to charge Scaggs with a hate crime because the other charges have stiffer penalties.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for federal civil rights charges against the alleged attacker, according to a press release. According to investigators, the victim was singled out due to his perceived ethnicity and the attacker allegedly committed the offense to, in his words, “save his country.”
University of Illinois president Michael Hogan sent an email to faculty and staff expressing thanks to those who intervened to help Dharmapala. “As some of you may have read in the newspapers, this morning a member of our faculty was severely injured during what appears to have been a senseless act of aggression and alleged hate crime by another not affiliated with the University of Illinois,” the email said. “The thoughts of the entire university community are with the victim and his family, wishing for a complete and speedy recovery.”