ERIE, Penn. (WJET) – A student at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, has apologized after footage from a pub’s surveillance camera appeared to show him push a disabled woman’s wheelchair down a staircase while she was in the bathroom.
The student has since been identified as Carson Briere, a hockey player at Mercyhurst and the son of Daniel Briere, a former NHL player and the current interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. Daniel Briere also played for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL.
Briere, a junior at the university, has also been suspended from his college hockey team, the school’s athletic department said.
“I am deeply sorry for my behavior on Saturday,” said Briere in a statement released after the video was shared to social media earlier this week. “There is no excuse for my actions and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.”
In the video, which was captured just after 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Briere and two other men are seen surrounding the empty wheelchair, which was said to be left at the top of a staircase at Sullivan’s after its owner was carried to the pub’s downstairs bathrooms. Briere then sits in the unoccupied wheelchair before getting up and pushing it down the stairs.
Following the incident, an employee at Sullivan’s Irish Pub said he threw Briere out of the bar.
“I grabbed him on the shoulders and said, ‘I’ve got video of you tossing a wheelchair down the steps, like it’s time to go,’” Nate Sanders, the security manager at Sullivan’s, told Nexstar’s WJET.
Mercyhurst confirmed an investigation shortly after the “disturbing” video went viral. In a subsequent statement, the school identified Carson Briere as the perpetrator.
“Mercyhurst University has heard a considerable outcry regarding the social media video of student Carson Briere showing him pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs,” the university wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. “Mr. Briere today issued a statement taking responsibility for his actions, and in doing so, he recognized his behavior reflects a ‘serious lack of judgment’ and that he is ‘deeply sorry.’ The actions displayed in the video make our hearts heavy and fall short of our Mercy belief in the inherent dignity of each person. We pray for and are in solidarity with the victim and all persons with disabilities who rightfully find actions like this to be deeply offensive. Our Mercy tradition also reminds us that students and all people who make poor choices deserve opportunities to learn, change behaviors, and atone for harmful actions.”
The Mercyhurst Athletics Department also confirmed Briere had been placed on “interim suspension” from the team, along with the two other student-athletes seen in the video.
ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon that Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere also apologized in a statement, calling his son’s behavior “inexcusable.”
“I was shocked to see Carson’s actions in the video that was shared on social media yesterday,” he said, per ESPN. “They are inexcusable and run completely counter to our family’s values on treating people with respect. Carson is very sorry and accepts full responsibility for his behavior.”
The victim’s friend, Julia Zukowski, has since started a GoFundMe account to raise money for a replacement wheelchair. The original wheelchair’s armrest broke in the fall, and other parts were bent, according to the staff at Sullivan’s.
The GoFundMe fundraiser had already raised over $8,000 as of Thursday morning. But the owner of the wheelchair, who identified herself as Sydney Benes, said on Twitter that she plans on giving much of that money away.
“Hi [I’m] Sydney and it was my chair that was pushed down the stairs,” Benes wrote. “I’m so thankful for all of Sullivan’s help in this situation and the kind comments I see on Julia’s post. I swear I really don’t wanna keep a cent of the donated money, I’d much rather give it to those who need it.”