GRANGER, Ind. (WNDU) - Two students at Discovery Middle School in Granger have been arrested for attacking another student on April 8.
Prosecutors and police announced the charges at news conference Thursday.
"That whole mantra of 'boys will be boys' only goes so far. But when you are hurting another individual, that's when we've got to put a stop to it," St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter said.
Video of the attack surfaced on social media in the days following the fight. The video shows a student beating up another boy in the school's bathroom during a passing period.
"For hours, they wandered around and looked for the right opportunity and moment for this to happen. One kid's role was punching and one kid's role was filming," St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky said.
The 14-year-old who attacked the boy and another 14-year-old who prosecutors say encouraged the first boy, have been arrested on charges of battery causing serious bodily injury. Both students were taken to the Juvenile Justice Center in South Bend.
Authorities say many students knew about the planned attacked and did nothing to stop it. And afterward, people shared the video of the beating on social media, where it went viral.
"Everybody that shared that video and sent it on there sent that little boy's pain to anybody in the public to see. Anywhere on the internet, anywhere in the world," Tamashasky added. "Everywhere that video was, people got to look at that little kid who did what we told him -- 'don't fight, you're not supposed to punch people, you're not supposed to be violent in school; you're supposed to learn.' And in exchange, he got a concussion and he got notoriety that he never asked for and never wanted."
Authorities said this is an example of where parents need to step in and talk to their children about stopping potential acts of violence before they happen.
"That is a strong message to take away from this situation that occurred, was that students, parents need to come forward with information," St. Joseph County Sheriff Bill Redman said.
Principal Sheryll Harper sent the following letter to families Thursday:
Dear Discovery Families,
This is to notify you that this morning St. Joseph County Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter held a news conference announcing that the two juveniles involved in the April 8 bathroom assault on another Discovery student were detained overnight and are currently being housed at the Juvenile Justice Center.
Prosecutor Cotter stated that both juveniles involved in the assault are being charged with battery causing serious bodily injury. The juveniles charged are the alleged aggressor and the juvenile that allegedly video recorded the assault, and whom police say can be heard in the video encouraging the attack. Prosecutor Cotter explained that this would be a Level 5 Felony if the juveniles were being charged as adults. He stated that for juveniles these are called delinquency actions, actions that would otherwise be a felony or a crime if the offenders were adults.
Mr. Cotter and St. Joseph County Police investigators made the very clear point that the reason why both juveniles are being held accountable for their actions is because it is a crime to not only attack someone and severely injure them, but it is also an equal crime to participate in the act by encouraging it.
As shared in this press conference by the County Prosecutor, please have the conversation with your children the critical importance of notifying an adult immediately when they hear of something about to take place or are witness to an incident that threatens the safety of our school and other students.
Besides notifying a school administrator or staff member, P-H-M also utilizes the Safe School Helpline® as another way to report student safety concerns. It is confidential and is available 24/7 via phone, text or online:
Safe School Helpline®
Call: 1-800-418-6423, ext. 359
Text: TIPS to 66746
The reports are received right away 24/7 by school and District administrators.
We have cooperated with St. Joseph County Police and the Prosecutor’s Office in their investigation to help ensure the physical and psychological safety of our school. Our investigation into this incident continues and violations of the Penn-Harris-Madison Middle School Student Handbook will be dealt with using the full scope of disciplinary measures as outlined in the Student Handbook on page 22.
As always, I’m available to discuss cares and concerns that students and/or parents may have. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sherryll Harper, Principal
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation