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Arrest made in alleged assault involving SCSU student athlete

Oct 01, 2021 05:19AM ● By Editor
Photo: KARE 11 News

By Dana Thiede and Lou Raguse of KARE 11 News - September 29, 2021

An arrest has been made in a St. Cloud case that's received a lot of attention on social media. A star St. Cloud State University wrestler is suspected of assaulting a fellow student but is claiming self-defense.

An online petition and Gofundme page drew attention to the case involving St. Cloud State Student Chad Waldrop, whose father writes was assaulted from behind after checking on a woman he could hear arguing with a man.

It happened right outside Waldrop's off-campus house in St. Cloud. His family says he was knocked unconscious, breaking his nose, cheekbones and jaw, and more.

The suspect is star SCSU heavyweight wrestler Ezaya Oropeza -- whom police did not immediately arrest -- leading to outrage from Waldrop's family and friends.

"They should have done something immediately. It's sad that we had to do all this stuff in order for something to happen," said Waldrop's roomate Jake Hendrickson.

After the outrage spread online, Oropeza was arrested by St. Cloud Police on Tuesday, 10 days after the incident.

"Now that my client has been named, we find it necessary to issue this response," said Oropeza's attorney Christa Groshek.

Groshek says the narrative many have read online is far from what really happened.

"It's completely false that Waldrop was a 'Good Samaritan' in an respect. In fact, he was the troublemaker. He was the instigator in this instance, and he was the person who was presenting a threat," Groshek said.

She says Waldrop charged at Oropeza -- who couldn't see Waldrop's hands and didn't know if he had a weapon -- so Oropeza punched him twice.

"It was dark. It was 1:30 in the morning. My client felt very threatened. And he did what he knew to do, which is defend himself and his girlfriend," Groshek said.

Waldrop's friends scoff at that characterization.

"That's ridiculous. Chad is not an aggressive person," Hendrickson said.

St. Cloud Police say they expect the Stearns County Attorney to file an assault charge Thursday morning. Oropeza will remain in jail until then.

KARE 11 does not typically name suspects before charges; however, Oropeza's name is being published at this time due to the nature of the case and the identification provided by his attorney.

SCSU's website lists Oropeza on the Huskies' wrestling team roster, but his attorney tells KARE 11 the team has temporarily suspended him.

To date more than 8,300 people have signed the petition, titled "Justice for Chad." 

University officials confirmed the off-campus incident in a social media post on Saturday, saying that "the safety of students and employees is a top priority." SCSU added that a student conduct investigation is moving forward, and that the student athlete allegedly involved in the incident has been suspended indefinitely from team activities. 

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