MENOMONIE, Wis. (KMSP) - About 1,000 people turned up at University of Wisconsin-Stout campus Thursday evening for a memorial service for international student Hussain Alnahdi. The 24-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was attacked and left unconscious on a Menomonie sidewalk early Sunday morning. He died the next day.
"Since Sunday, I feel like I've experienced what is the worst of our world and then what is the best of our world," Dean of Students Sandi Scott Duex said.
Whether he was talking about his struggles learning English, the differences between Memononie, Wisconsin and his native Saudi Arabia, or running late for class, Alnahdi touched many lives during his short time at UW-Stout.
"Whether it be his obnoxious laugh or persistent teasing, Hussain knew how to get me riled up. Even though I hated it at the time. These are the things I will miss the most. I would do anything to hear that laugh one more time," one of Alnahdi's roommates, Tommy Hutson said.
In a video message from Saudi Arabia, Alnahdi's brother pleaded for anyone with information about what happened to come forward.
"We don't know the details of this assault. Was it a fight? Was it just an assault from an unknown body, group, one guy?" he said in the video message.
At one point, the entire UW-Stout football team took a knee in uniform in Alnandi's honor.
The memorial service ended with a moment of silence and a sea of candles in the hope Alnahdi's memory will burn bright in the hearts and minds of the Stout community from now on.
"Hold your friends close. Tell them how much you care and how much you love them because you never know when you might not be able to say that again. Goodbye Hussain. We will always be family," another roommate, Ben Collar said.
Police say they are investigating the brutal beating and haven't ruled out that it could be a hate crime. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.