Former WKU tight end Tyler Higbee faces multiple charges after an altercation on Sunday morning that resulted in the 23-year-old’s arrest and left the victim unresponsive with a brain hemorrhage.
Higbee, currently still enrolled as a student, was detained at the Warren County Regional Jail from about 2 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday morning and was held on a $10,000 bond. He is charged with second-degree assault, alcohol intoxication in a public place and fleeing or evading police, second degree.
According to a report from the Bowling Green City Police, officers were alerted to an altercation at Tidball’s bar at 1:51 a.m. and arrived at the scene at 1:54 a.m. to find the victim, Nawaf Alsaleh, unconscious and bleeding in the parking lot. Witnesses told police that Higbee had already fled the scene on foot.
Alsaleh was treated at the Medical Center at Bowling Green before being flown to TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville due to his serious injuries. Skyline said that he was still in serious condition on Monday evening.
In his report of the incident, Officer Daniel Stone said he saw Higbee and two other people walking near United Furniture on State Street after the assualt. Witnesses told the officer that Higbee and others were in the Mellow Mushroom parking lot and the officer said he observed them running through area. Stone reported that he yelled “Police, stop! Police, stop!” while pursuing on foot. Higbee concealed himself in a tree line near the First Christian Church before Stone made contact with him.
Stone asked Higbee if he had been to Tidball’s that night, and Higbee responded that he had been at Dublin’s on State Street. The officer observed that there was a cut with fresh blood on his hand and decided to detain and mirandized Higbee. Higbee waived his rights and chose to talk to the officer about the incident.
Higbee told the officer that a person of Middle Eastern decent had been bothering him and his girlfriend at Dublin’s and approached them again at Tidball’s while they were in line at Shogun’s food truck. He also told the officer that Alsaleh was telling him that he wanted to fight, which the officer questioned since he was speaking a different language. Higbee told the officer that “he just knew.”
Laura Harper said that she and her boyfriend were in line behind Higbee and his girlfriend at the Shogun’s food truck located behind the bar when the incident occurred. Harper said she saw Alsaleh and Higbee arguing in front of them.
“All I saw was that [Alsaleh] was there and Higbee was telling him to call his friend,” Harper said. “[Alsaleh] looked like he was standing his ground. Higbee’s girlfriend was trying act like it wasn’t a big deal and was telling everyone that they were friends, which worked because no one really expected what happened.”
In the police report, Higbee’s girlfriend, Mollie Pajakowski, told officers that Alsaleh was “acting creepy” toward the couple and was “coming on to her” while they were at Dublin’s Irish Pub earlier in the evening. She also said that there was scuffling between the two men prior to Higbee punching Alsaleh.
Harper said that Alsaleh didn’t seem confrontational.
Another witness quoted in the police report, Hayley Worman, said that Alsaleh was saying something to Higbee and said “No,” several times before Higbee struck him in the face. She also observed that Alsaleh had his hands down the entire time.
“The next thing we knew, Higbee had knocked him to the ground,” Harper said. “He wasn’t there when the police showed up. After he hit that guy, him and his friends ran away like cowards.”
Harper mentioned that Higbee was much larger than Alsaleh and that he seemed to be quite drunk. The police report lists Alsaleh as being 5’11” and 157 pounds while Higbee is listed as 6’5” and 240 pounds.
Harper said that after Alsaleh was knocked out, Higbee made to walk away but came back to yell “ISIS these nuts,” and “[expletive] you, go back to your country.” Witnesses quoted in the police report said that several of the people with Higbee were yelling similar slurs at Alsaleh while he was talking on the phone. Harper and the other witnesses said the Alsaleh turned away from Higbee while on his phone before being punched in the face.
This past season for the Hilltoppers, Higbee recorded 38 receptions for 563 receiving yards while also earning eight touchdowns. In his career at WKU he totaled 68 receptions, 1,054 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns.
According to usatoday.com, Higbee was projected as a second round draft pick before the incident on Saturday night.
Higbee was also one of only two WKU players to be invited to the NFL Combine this season. He had recently visited the Denver Broncos training facility and attended a workout with the New Orleans Saints.