Wisconsin football running back Montee Ball suffered head injuries after he was attacked on University Avenue early Wednesday morning, according to a Madison Police Department report.
According to an MPD report, the 21-year-old was attacked by five black men while walking on the 500 block of University Avenue at 2:15 a.m. It said he did not know the attackers and that the incident is currently being considered an unprovoked assault.
MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said some witnesses saw him lying on the pavement being kicked in the head and the torso. He said the perpetrators fled toward Frances Street and the Kohl Center.
DeSpain said Ball was transported to a hospital by ambulance after the attack and has since been released.
According to DeSpain, MPD has not yet identified any suspects.
“At this time we’re talking with witnesses, interviewing the victim and taking a look at surveillance cameras in the area,” DeSpain said. “Hopefully we’ll determine who [the suspects] are, arrest them and gain some more information.”
He added that Ball’s cell phone is missing, and that if police determine it was taken during the attack, the case would become a robbery.
According to DeSpain, MPD is still determining whether the attack was at random or if Ball was targeted because of “who he is.” He added that the area the attack occurred in has been facing ongoing issues including shots being fired, batteries and robberies.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said this crime is one of several crimes that have taken place after bar time in that area, such as the shooting in the 600 block of University Avenue in May and a violent fight in front of Wando’s bar last Saturday night.
Verveer said MPD has assigned detectives to the case because the extent of the injuries that the victim suffered makes the crime a felony of substantial battery. He added that Ball was alone when he was attacked.
According to Verveer, both the athletic department and Ball have said he will make a full recovery and that it will not affect his football career at all.
“I have no idea what the motivation might be,” Verveer said. “I know the police will be doing everything they can to make sure these sorts of attacks will not continue and will be extra diligent to students on campus in the coming weeks.”
Verveer said there were 30 additional police officers downtown last weekend between State Street and University Avenue because of the spike in crime in that area recently.
He added that since this incident happened during the week, he hopes MPD will increase police controls during the week as well.
Additional lighting was installed on parts of University Avenue and Frances Street, and additional lights will soon be on the 500 block of University Avenue, according to Verveer.
Verveer said because of Ball’s notoriety, this crime brings tremendous attention to the perceived crime problems in Madison throughout the country.
“Madison is still a very safe community in comparison to similar medium-sized cities in America and we have a relatively low crime rate,” Verveer said. “[The incident] is receiving attention all over the country and I think it’s unfortunate that it will lead many to believe the campus are is not relatively safe, which it most certainly is.”
He added that this incident is a reminder to students to be proactive in their safety when they are out at night, and should take precautions.