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Three suspects questioned after man badly hurt in assault near NDSU

Isaiah Smith

FARGO — Fargo police are investigating a brutal assault on a man near the North Dakota State University campus last week, according to a Tuesday, Sept. 5, news release.

Three suspects have been interviewed, and the investigation is ongoing, Officer Jessica Schindeldecker said in the release. Police did not divulge the suspects' names.

The police anticipate having prosecutors review the case for possible charges, she said.

The victim, identified by relatives as Isaiah Smith, 21, suffered injuries that were serious but not life-threatening, she said.

An officer was dispatched to the Sanford Hospital emergency room about 2:15 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, on a report of a patient injured in an assault. Smith told the officer he was at a park behind the T-Lofts apartments when he saw two males he believed were responsible for another assault the night before. He "called them out" in regards to the earlier assault, and they jumped him, police said.

A YouCaring webpage was created to raise funds for Smith's medical expenses. His sister, Casey Droher, wrote on the page that, according to police, he "was choked from behind and thrown to the ground" during the assault Friday, Sept. 1.

"His jaw was hanging from his face, broken in 3 places," she wrote. "Fragments from his jaw bone were near his facial nerves, the surgeon had to pull each fragment out very carefully in order for the facial nerves to stay (intact). His chin, broken, lacerated underneath. Teeth, what teeth? Isaiah will have lost more than half his teeth after this journey to recovery. The surgeon said this is the worst injury he's ever seen."

According to Schindeldecker, the responding officer noted the victim had several injuries to his face, but the victim said "not to worry about him" and didn't want a report filed. Later that morning, Smith's mother called police saying her son was in surgery, and she wondered what police were doing with the investigation. The police supervisor on duty reviewed the incident and told her what the officer noted. When she described his injuries, though, the supervisor sent another officer to Sanford to take a report."

Officers aren't always required to file reports, especially if the victim doesn't want to cooperate, Schindeldecker said. They do take notes, which can be used to pursue the case later if needed, she said.

In this case, she said, the extent of the victim's injuries may not have been apparent to the first officer.

Droher wrote that surgeons initially told the family Smith would need four hours of surgery then, "during surgery the realization came that this was far worse than they originally thought," and he ended up requiring seven hours.

Smith's Facebook page describes him as a certified nursing assistant at Sanford Health and an NDSU graduate. He graduated in 2014 from Brainerd High School where he participated in football, basketball and track.

He wrote on Facebook Tuesday, "To keep everyone updated I'm at home and taking this day by day cannot thank everyone enough for all the support means the world to me and is keeping me going, much love to everyone and appreciate all of you so much and am amazed by all the support and care you guys have shown my family and I."

More than 500 friends and strangers responded with prayers for his speedy recovery.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, his YouCaring page had raised $33,300 of the $40,000 goal.

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