Man stabbed in violent assault

Beginning of semester party turns brutal

Published by James Cressman, Date: January 16, 2024

A party turned violent in the early morning hours of Jan. 15 at The Grove at Slippery Rock.

23-year-old Brennan Steeley, a resident at The Grove Apartments, and friends were hanging out in Steeley’s apartment drinking, when 22-year-old Oliver Valera arrived at the party. Per police reports, attendees at the party were drinking and using recreational drugs.

For Valera, the night started off hanging out at Coney Island restaurant on Grove City Rd. in Slippery Rock. There, he met two girls who invited him to join them at a party.  Valera did not know the girls, or Steeley, prior to this night.

“Being that it was a party at Slippery Rock, I felt pretty safe in going with them, given they were strangers.”

 Several hours after arriving, Valera says Steeley started to become aggressive.

“He kind of went crazy and started accusing me of trying to kill everyone.” Valera said

According to Valera, it was at this point Steeley’s confrontation became deadly.

“All of a sudden he just swiped at me, and I realized he had cut my neck.” Valera said.

Valera ran from Steeley’s apartment while attempting to find help from other residents.

“I was running around in five-degree weather in a t-shirt. I was pounding on apartment doors, but people wouldn’t let me in because of how I looked.”

After making his way from Steeley’s apartment, Valera called his father to report what had happened. At this point, he is unsure whether he called police or if his father made the call after speaking with him.

Butler County Dispatch Center reports that a 911 call was not received through their dispatch, rather the assault was reported directly to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

PSP, SRU Campus Police and Slippery Rock EMS responded to the call at The Grove apartment. Steeley was taken into custody and Valera was transported to the hospital.

Upon investigating, the PSP determined Steeley used a small fixed-blade knife during the attack.

According to Valera, his injuries required jugular surgery to repair damage from the attack.

Hours after the incident, David Wilmes, the Chief Student Affairs Officer for Slippery Rock University (SRU) wrote in an email to the university stakeholders, that none of the parties involved are currently enrolled at SRU. Wilmes assured the community that there was no present danger to SRU students.

Trooper Bertha Cazy, of the Pennsylvania State Police, informed The Rocket that Steeley is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment. Steeley is currently remanded to Butler County Prison.

The Rocket reached out to The Grove for comment on the incident and were directed to Kevin Sealey, Director of Operations for the Cardigan Group, which owns The Grove property.

Sealey shared the following statement.

“We are aware of the incident that took place between a resident and their guest on the morning of Jan. 15. The safety of our residents and staff is our top priority and we are working with local authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. Due to the nature of the incident and the ongoing investigation, we are unable to share further details at this time.”

This isn’t the first time Police have been called to The Grove.  The Rocket has reported on several incidents over the last few years. In 2021, police were called to the property in a reported shooting inside a residence. In 2022, they were called for another shooting, this time into a wooded area from an elevated apartment. Another incident occurred that same year, in which an SRU student fell from a third-floor balcony onto concrete below.


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