Michael Mott, 34, from Oxford, CT turned himself in to New Haven police on Monday night. A warrant for his arrest had been issued earlier in the day.
He confessed to assaulting McCann outside of the Study Hotel, on a street that runs through the Yale University campus, and has been charged with second-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace, according to a press release from police spokesman Officer David Hartman.
“This was a particularly disturbing case because Mr. McCann was specifically targeted after he tried helping another victim,” New Haven Chief of Police Dean Esserman said in a statement.
The assault took place close to 10pm on the night of June 28. Officers were called to the scene, where McCann had been knocked unconscious and sustained multiple injuries, including two black eyes and three shattered teeth. He was taken to Yale-New Haven hospital for treatment.
Witness accounts and early reports stated that McCann had tried to intervene in a dispute between a woman and a man, who attacked McCann after he asked the woman if she wanted him to call the police
Detectives began investigating the case immediately, and by the time the story broke last Tuesday they said they were close to making an arrest.
McCann’s account of the events and witness statements led police to Mott, who had checked in to the Study Hotel with his wife earlier in the day.
“The couple left for drinks and returned a few hours later,” Hartman told the New Haven Register, at which point the hotel staff informed Mott that his credit card did not have sufficient funds to pay for their room.
“It was reported this issue sparked a dispute between Mott and his wife. Apparently, Mr. McCann witnessed the dispute and asked Mott’s wife if she was alright or needed assistance. She indicated she’d be OK.”
McCann was in New Haven to speak at Southern Connecticut University the following day, at an event in connection with Narrative4, his non-profit that brings teens together to practice ‘radical empathy’ – sharing their traumatic experiences in a safe environment and having their stories told back to them in return.
Last week, McCann told the New York Times that he didn’t hold much empathy for his attacker.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to turn around and love my enemy,” he said. “I’m angry about it. I would definitely feel empathy again for the woman in trouble, but I might do it differently. I might call the police. But the fact of the matter is there are things around that are inherently evil. I don’t necessarily have any empathy for him.”
McCann won the 2009 National Book award for “Let the Great World Spin,” an allegory for the city’s devastation and healing after the events of 9/11. His most recent novel, "Trans-Atlantic," published last year, connects generations of crossings between Ireland and the US.