This post was written by Hatchet reporter Danielle Telson.
Faculty, friends and members of the community gathered Thursday evening to remember Patrick David Casey, a 33-year-old graduate student described as heartfelt, spirited and insightful.
More than 50 people attended the memorial held in Veteran’s Park at 22nd and G streets and said even in his short time at GW, Casey made a lasting impact. The Afghanistan war veteran arrived in D.C. in early August to earn a master’s at the Elliott School of International Affairs.
Ashley Andrews, chair of the Graduate Student Forum, gave opening remarks and said Casey had an impact everywhere he went.
“It sounds silly, but I remember just wanting to be his friend right away because he was so full of life,” Andrews said.
Professor Mark Gaspar said that in class, Casey was “energetic, engaged and warm-spirited.”
“His keen understanding of complex issues was underpinned by his buoyant personality,” Gaspar said. “Patrick was a large man, but it was his spirit that filled the room.”
Elliott School graduate student Matt Hughes echoed Gaspar’s remarks, saying that Casey was a very gracious person.
“There are a lot of soldiers who will get upset if you say something unintentionally, just something stupid, But he would just smile and laugh. He said it just wasn’t worth getting upset about,” Hughes said.
University President Steven Knapp said Casey’s death was a shock.
“As you can imagine, with all military families, when Patrick was serving in Afghanistan with the U.S army, everyday and night [his family] dreaded the phone call to tell them that something had happened to their beloved son,” Knapp said. “Of course they never expected that it be only after he returned to the United States from the dangers of combat that something like this would occur.”
He also underscored the importance of community after tragedies such as Casey’s death.
“We try to come together with a sense that we are part of the same institution, we are all part of the same family here,” Knapp said.
Casey was pronounced brain dead Sept. 27 and legally declared dead two days later, following an altercation that occurred just off campus early Sept. 23, where he and other McDonald’s patrons got into a fight.
Metropolitan Police are investigating his death as a homicide. The D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner publicly released Wednesday that the manner of Casey’s death was a homicide resulting from blunt impact trauma.
This article was updated on Oct. 9, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly referred to professor Mark Gaspar as Mark Gasper.