Sally Shamieh, a 22-year-old Fulbright scholar from Lebanon, had barely stepped off the plane and arrived in Lawrence to start classes at Kansas University when she was mugged and stabbed outside her hotel room.
"This is a rotten way to get started," said Hodgie Bricke, assistant dean of international programs and Fulbright coordinator at KU.
Shamieh arrived Thursday evening at Kansas City International Airport, then took a shuttle to Lawrence. She had come from Beirut to study public administration.
Orientation for Shamieh, 15 new Fulbright scholars and 250 other new international students is Sunday, but Thursday's flight was the only one she could catch to the United States. Bricke said Shamieh decided to stay at the Ramada Inn, 2222 W. Sixth St., until her dorm room was ready this weekend.
About 7:50 p.m., she was moving her luggage into her first-floor room when a man approached her, took her fanny pack and stabbed her twice once in the leg and once in the stomach. She was later treated and released at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Shamieh wouldn't comment Thursday.Acquaintances said she was tired from the trip, recovering from the shock of the attack and didn't want to talk with a reporter.
Police offered this description of the assailant Friday: He was a black man in his 20s with a shaved head. He was 5 feet 8 inches with a chubby build. He was wearing a red T-shirt, dark shorts and tennis shoes.
He also had three distinguishing features scars near his left eye and left cheek, and he had a tattoo of the letters "PEP" on his left forearm.
Sgt. Mike Pattrick said the man may have been driving a maroon and white car with fancy wheel rims.
Bricke said Shamieh's fanny pack contained her contact information in Lawrence, all of her money and her travel documents. But Shamieh did remember the name of her faculty adviser John Nalbandian, professor and chairman of public administration and government. She was staying with Nalbandian Friday.
Nalbandian wouldn't comment about the incident Friday. Officials at the Ramada Inn also wouldn't comment.
Bricke said employees at KU's International Programs office took the news hard. They are still numb from the May 13 stabbing death of KU student Shannon Martin in Costa Rica.
She said officials couldn't remember a similar event happening to an international student here.
"Everyone is totally shocked by this," Bricke said. "This is not a usual event in Lawrence. We're a welcoming community to international students."