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Hanover Man Assaulted on Wheelock

Police Step Up Patrols After Second Attack This Month

Hanover — Police are stepping up patrols on Wheelock Street after a Hanover man was assaulted there early Sunday morning, marking the second such altercation this month.

The victim, Mark Cookson, 53, on Monday said that due to a concussion he didn’t remember much, and couldn’t identify his assailants, though he did remember seeing a man standing in the alley outside 3 Guys Basement BBQ, near the corner of Wheelock and South Main Street.

“He ran out from the alley and physically knocked me to the ground and kicked me in the head,” Cookson said.

Officers from the Hanover Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services responded to a call at around 1:30 a.m. from Dartmouth College Safety and Security of a man lying in the roadway on West Wheelock Street near Roberts Flowers. Cookson was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and was released by Monday.

Dartmouth Safety and Security Director Harry Kinne could not be reached for comment.

Witnesses of the assault observed Cookson walking down the street — where he also lives — and saw two suspects, a male and a female, flee the area toward Main Street, Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said Monday. Dennis declined to name any suspects, nor say if they were local to Hanover.

The man had a young woman with him, Cookson said, but it was too dark to see who they were, only that they were younger than he was.

Cookson had been drinking at local bars that night, he said, but “whoever this person was was not someone I saw in a bar.”

This is the second late-night assault in public this month. Just after midnight on July 2, two Upper Valley men allegedly attacked and robbed a Dartmouth student on the Hanover Green and were arrested soon afterward by police.

“At first, I thought, ‘Do we have a pattern developing here?’ ” Town Manager Julia Griffin said on Monday.

But rather than “some anxiety-inducing trend of assaultive behavior,” these were isolated incidents, Griffin said. Altercations on Dartmouth’s campus are known to happen from time to time, but they are much rarer off-campus, she said.

“This is not something to be overly alarmed about,” Griffin said.

Yet Griffin, concerned that alcohol had played a role, said it was time to have a conversation with local bars about paying better attention to the intoxication level of their patrons.

Police are reviewing CCTV and other sources, including Salt hill Pub and other bars that Cookson had visited, in an attempt to see if any of the victim’s interactions that night had lead to the assault, Griffin said.

Dennis declined to comment on police activities because the investigation was still in progress, but offered some advice for Hanover residents.

“The best we can do is be aware of our surroundings. Just be cautious, especially if you’re out in the dark hours,” Dennis said.

Dennis also recommended using the buddy system late at night.

Although Wheelock Street, which runs through the center of town, is a well-traveled thoroughfare, there is much less supervision of the road between midnight and 2 a.m., Dennis said. Police will start to patrol the area more frequently during those hours, he said.

Though Dennis didn’t identify a trend in the recent rise in assaults, he said he took every incident seriously.

“One is too many when it’s a crime against a person,” he said.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com .