University at Buffalo basketball player Malik Zachery is believed to have thrown the first punch that led to a fight between UB and Canisius College basketball players and the stabbing of a Canisius player during a pickup game, North Tonawanda police said Monday.
“It appears the fight started with Malik and the player that got stabbed,” Daryl Truty, captain of the detective bureau, told The Buffalo News. “From all indications, Malik threw the first punch and a fight broke out. A good majority of the players were involved in the fights.”
Zachery was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, in connection with an incident last Wednesday at 875 Eggert Road, which is the address of St. Matthew Lutheran Church. Zachery was arrested Friday. He is scheduled for a hearing Oct. 15 in North Tonawanda City Court.
Scott Hitchon, a senior forward on the basketball team, is the player who was stabbed, his father, Mark, confirmed to The News.
Truty said the player who was stabbed went to the hospital and received treatment for a deep thigh wound, above the knee, closer to the middle of the thigh.
An arrest report obtained by The News stated the victim has requested an order of protection.
Truty said the gym is a training center in North Tonawanda that is independent of either UB or Canisius, and that the pickup game appeared to be an arranged event.
“But,” Truty said, “nobody will actually admit to that. The UB team was scrimmaging the Canisius basketball team when, at some point, a fight broke out, and one of the players was stabbed.”
Truty said five UB players were at the gym. He said he did not know the exact number of Canisius players at the gym, but said the Canisius players outnumbered the UB players.
Malik Zachery could not be reached for comment by The News. But Michael Zachery, Malik’s father, said Saturday that while he was not at the gym where the pickup game took place, “There were 12 to 15 kids jumping on five kids from Buffalo.”
”Other players had to fight off two or three players apiece,” said Michael Zachery, who lives in the Syracuse area. “Really swinging. My son was in a headlock, getting stomped, and had to bite a kid. But the police never investigated any of that.”
Michael Zachery also said that he did not know if his son stabbed another individual.
Truty said that when police arrived to the gym, the UB players had left, but that Zachery returned to speak with police.
“As far as the UB players, we set up appointments for them to come in (and interview) and they were a no-show,” Truty said. “(Malik) came back to the gym at the request of the person who runs the gym. They requested he come back, and he did, on his own. He was later interviewed at the police station.”
UB said in a statement to The News that university officials advised members of the team in attendance to seek legal counsel before scheduling a meeting with police.
"We believe it is the best interests of our student athletes to exercise their right to be accompanied by legal representation when discussing this matter and cooperating further with police," the statement said. "We are assisting our student-athletes in informing them of their rights to secure legal representation and scheduling a meeting with police."
Truty said the North Tonawanda Police Department interviewed four players from Canisius, and also took statements from independent witnesses.
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