Tragedy struck the campus of North Central College this past weekend after an incident off campus left an alumnus dead and a student injured.
Early Saturday morning, Naperville resident Daniel Olaska had an argument with North Central College senior Willie Hayes at Frankie’s Blue Room in downtown Naperville.
“Words were exchanged regarding the defendant drinking wine out of a beer glass and that may have been what escalated this verbal disagreement,” said Robert Berlin, DuPage State’s Attorney.
Olaska allegedly then pulled a knife on Hayes. 2011 college alumnus and District 204 elementary school teacher Shaun Wild tried to come to his friend’s rescue, and was fatally stabbed.
Bar bouncer Rafael Casteneda supposedly wrestled the knife away from Olaska, and was also injured in the process.
Police arrested Olaska at the scene and took him in for questioning, and said they could not determine a motive.
“There is no way to make sense of what happened. I’ve had a lengthy police career and I have never heard of anything that made less sense than this particular stabbing,” said David Dial, Naperville Police Chief.
Olaska is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He appeared in court on Sunday where a judge set bond at $3 million.
Less than 24 hours after the tragic incident, students, alumni, faculty, staff, friends and family filled the Harold and Eva White Activities Center on the college’s campus for a tearful vigil in Wild’s honor.
“It’s been a matter of hours and this isn’t even his home, it’s his second home. He’s from Wisconsin, and all of us are here right now. It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Steve Hlavac, Wild’s former roommate.
Wild quickly became part of the Cardinal family, joining the football team as a kicker. By his senior year, Wild’s leadership was evident both on and off the field.
“When I was coaching him I would go, ‘Shaun, this is what I need to get done today,’ and he would take those youngsters and just get it done for me,” said Adam Pucylowski, NCC Kicking Coach.
“When someone did something great they had no greater cheerleader than Shaun,” said Gary Ireland, NCC Football Chaplain.
Wild’s spirit will continue on and current players remind the up-and-coming kickers and punters of the big shoes he left behind to fill.
“The easiest thing to tell them is you’re coming in after Shaun Wild and you’re not going to have a better guy above you and none of us are ever going to know a better guy,” said Kevin Adams, Receiver, NCC.
Many reflected on what Wild left behind for the team.
“So I talked to the football players before the rest of you got here and what I asked them to do was take a little piece of with them so that amazing light that Shaun shined on us because he was already a superstar. Carry a little of that with you. And make sure your heart shines even brighter,” said John Thorne, Head Football Coach.
Others offered words of encouragement to his family, who came from Wisconsin and sat in the front row.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wild, Shannon, Kevin, thank you for the gift of Shaun to each of our lives,” said Hal Wilde, President, North Central College. “In his too brief time south of the Wisconsin border, Shaun lifted the entire North Central family, and the students and staff at the Spring Brook Elementary School. He and you will always be an important part of the North Central family.”
The tragic death of Wild was not only a loss for the North Central community.
“A tragedy here at North central College is a tragedy for Naperville,” said Robert Fieseler, Naperville City Councilman.
After graduating in 2011, Wild took his leadership from the football field to the classroom. He began teaching the next generation at Spring Brook Elementary School as a second grade teacher.
Spring Brook Principal David Worst released a statement after hearing the news saying, “The Spring Brook community is deeply saddened by the death of one of our staff members. … The Wild family is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”
The events of the weekend are still fresh in the minds of both school communities. On Monday, the flags at North Central flew at half mass and outside Spring Brook Elementary School stood a sign that read “Mr. Wild- We have lost someone special, our deepest sympathy, your Spring Brook family.”
On March 5th, Olaska will go to court for arraignment. If convicted of all charges, he faces between 32 and 120 years in prison. In the meantime, members of Grace Christian Fellowship Church, where Olaska is a member, are trying to raise enough money to post bail.
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