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Charges Dropped Against Man Who Threw Shoe

Aziz Wehbey was part of a group of people protesting at a Syria forum at Lehigh University.

By Jack Tobias

A Whitehall Township man accused of throwing a shoe and hitting a police officer during a Lehigh University forum on Syria -- the man's native country -- had the most serious charge against him dismissed at a preliminary hearingWednesday.

A felony charge of aggravated assault against Aziz W. Wehbey, 41, was dropped at the hearing before District Judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez. Also dropped were one count of disorderly conduct and three counts of harassment, according to online court records.

But Wehbey, of Peachtree Circle, waived counts of disorderly conduct and engage in fighting for Northampton County Court action, the records say.

His formal arraignment in county court was set for Feb. 6. He remained free on $100,000 unsecured bail. Handling the case is assistant district attorney Richard Pepper.

According to a previous Patch story, Wehbey was part of a group of people who were, according to Lehigh University police, “yelling and disrupting” the Zoellner Arts Center event on Nov. 4. The event included a full day of panel discussions on the “global and regional implications of the Syrian crisis.”

Police responded to Zoellner about 8:30 p.m., which would have been during a dinner that featured remarks from Robin Wright of the U.S. Institute of Peace and Hisham Melhem of the al-Arabiya news channel.

Police began to escort the “disorderly” people from Zoellner when an officer inside Baker Hall watched as Wehbey allegedly threw a shoe and hit two speakers on stage, an arrest affidavit said.

Lt. Rich McGarr, the arresting officer, wrote in the affidavit that he joined in with a group of Lehigh officers who tried to arrest Wehbey, who resisted. During the struggle, Wehbey “violently threw his elbow” at McGarr, causing him to fall to the ground, the affidavit says.

“Officers had to use substantial force” to arrest Wehbey, McGarr wrote.

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