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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Student facing four charges, including hate motivated crime, following reported assault

This is a developing story. Continue to check back for updates.

Public Safety received a report of an assault on campus at 11:26 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, which was reported to students, staff and faculty in an email approximately an hour later. Officers from the Middlebury Police Department (MPD) responded to the incident at around 11:40 p.m. and spoke to the reported victim, Matthew Shanklin ’25, according to a press release from MPD issued at 1 p.m. on April 27.

According to the press release, Shanklin, 22, told MPD officers, “he had been ‘jumped’ by a group of 6-10 black students.” In a subsequent investigation by MPD, “it was determined that Shanklin had allegedly been the aggressor and had assaulted a group of students after making racially charged statements to them,” according to the press release. This was determined after the involved parties were interviewed by MPD. 

Shanklin has been issued a citation to appear in the Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to answer for four charges: simple assault, aggravated disorderly conduct, hate motivated crime and false information to a police officer. Shanklin is to appear in court on June 20 at 12:30 p.m. 

As of press time, the college has not announced the identity of any of the students involved, including Shanklin, in correspondence sent to all students and employees about the incident, or in direct emails to The Campus.

In an email sent after midnight on April 24, Associate Director of Public Safety Keith E. Ellery said that a student was reportedly assaulted by a group of individuals, but that the identity and description of the group was unknown at the time. The student was taken by Middlebury Regional Emergency Medical Services to Porter Medical Center for treatment. 

The MPD press release said that Shanklin reportedly suffered injuries to his leg.

“The incident does not appear to be bias related and the injuries to the student are identified as minor,” Ellery wrote in an email update sent to students and employees on April 24 at 2:14 a.m, before the press release outlining the charges was released days later. An email from Ellery sent the following afternoon identified the investigation as a joint effort between MPD and Public Safety. 

Public Safety “does not believe that there is an ongoing threat to our community” based on the investigation at that point, Ellery said in his most recent email update to the Middlebury community, sent April 24 at 2:28 p.m.

The Campus followed up with Public Safety for comment on April 26 and received an email response at 2:46 on April 27 after the release of the press release from MPD. In that response Director of Public Safety Demetria Kirby said the investigation is ongoing and no new information was available at that time. 

Kirby’s email also provided information about “Clery Crimes,” incidents that are determined to “present a continuing threat to students and/or employees.” According to Kirby, the name “Clery Crimes” comes from the Clery Act, which requires Timely Warnings to be issued after certain incidents occur on or around college campuses. 

In addition, the email emphasized that members of the Middlebury community should report crimes to the Department of Public Safety as soon as possible after they occur, and included a list of both reporting options and confidential resources.   

The Campus then asked Kirby for additional comments in light of the press release. College Director of Media Relations Sarah Ray sent an email response.

“Our Public Safety Department responded to this incident and referred the case to the Middlebury Police Department, which conducted an investigation. Questions about the police investigation should be directed to MPD. Matters of student discipline are not public due to privacy laws,”Ray said. The Campus reached out to Shanklin after the MPD press release was sent out. He did not respond by the press time of 5:30 p.m. on April 27.  

Tony Sjodin

Tony Sjodin ’23 is a managing editor. 

He previously served as community council correspondent, senior writer, news editor and senior news editor.  

Sjodin is majoring in political science with a focus on international and comparative politics. He previously held internships with the Appalachian Mountain Club's Outdoor Magazine, political campaigns in Massachusetts and Vermont, and the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica's Environmental Hub. Outside of class, he leads kayaking and hiking trips with the Middlebury Mountain Club.