Middle school student arrested after unprovoked and filmed attack of autistic classmate
MENIFEE, Calif., — A 13-year-old Menifee area student has been arrested in the wake of what officials have called a planned and unprovoked attack of another student at Ethan A. Chase Middle School last week.
The fight, which was videotaped by another student and later shared to social media, showed the assault took place in the school’s outdoor cafeteria area during a nutrition break and began when the now-arrested teen walked up behind the victim as he sat at a table eating and grabbed the other boy, throwing him to the ground before hitting him repeatedly in the face.
Police are continuing to look for the person who videotaped the assault according to Menifee Police Department; although it was not immediately clear what charges – if any – the person who filmed the incident could be facing.
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Menifee PD Captain Dave Gutierrez has since said the two students knew each other prior to the Oct. 25 attack, and in the days leading up to the incident had exchanged “harsh words”.
Saying the teens had already been “bantering back and forth, making fun of each other and doing what kids do,” Gutierrez said, “Unfortunately, it ended up culminating into this.”
However, the video later shared to social media, (which can be viewed here) and began before the apparently unprovoked attack started, left little doubt that the violent assault was pre-meditated and not the result of a heated argument.
“The way it was recorded, there’s not a lot of doubt that this was going to happen,” the Captain said; adding that the person who filmed the attack has not been identified and should have intervened.
While acknowledging that her son played a role in antagonizing the teen who later attacked him, Rachel Clark said the fight may have been the result of an ongoing dispute that began as a misunderstanding between the kids. “I have to be fair in that assessment and we have to be fair as parents,” she explained.
Although the fight was quickly broken up, the victim suffered a concussion and “moderate” facial injuries, including a fractured orbital socket according to the victim’s parents, Christopher and Rachel Clark; who later spoke with NBC 4 about the ongoing problem involving fights between students.
“It stems a lot from the schools,” Rachel, who happens to work for the school district, explained. “The harassment, the bullying.”
Other parents have said the video is a perfect example of the violence that continues to plague Jr and Sr high school campuses throughout the county.
However, Rachel acknowledged that her son may have played a part in antagonizing his attacker in the days leading up to the violent encounter, saying, “I have been told that the other child involved felt bullied by my son and his comments.”
“I have to be fair in that assessment and we have to be fair as parents,” she explained.
While schools typically handle discipline administratively after school-yard fights, a criminal investigation was launched after the victim’s parents took him to a hospital for treatment of his injuries and later filed a police report.
The day after the recorded assault, and after detectives discussed the circumstances of the incident with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, they arrested the boy now accused in the attack.
While acknowledging that school-yard fights rarely result in arrests and “don’t happen very often,” Gutierrez said the nature and circumstances of the incidents, along with any related injuries, are always a factor in whether or not there is an arrest. He also admitted that fights on the three campuses that his department covers within the Romoland Unified School District “are at quite a bit of a high rate right now.”
While Arreola would not directly confirm if anyone was disciplined after the fight, she did say that “appropriate disciplinary procedures” were followed.
“Harsh words and insults are the catalysts for most confrontations,” Arreola went on to explain; adding, “The school and district take our responsibility of keeping all of our campuses safe for students very seriously.”
“We will continue our work to prevent violent situations by teaching non-violent problem-solving,” she added; saying that the school has begun the process of having officers spend more time at the campuses meeting with students in an effort to limit the altercations.
In the meantime, the district has beefed up security at all their schools, she explained.
Menifee PD’s investigation into the violent incident is active and ongoing and anyone with further information about this investigation or who knows the identity of the person who filmed the attack is encouraged to contact the Menifee Police Department at (951) 677-4964. Callers can remain anonymous.
After the assault, Romoland School District spokesperson Madison Arreola released the following statement:
“An altercation occurred between two students on campus at Ethan A. Chase Middle School on Monday, October 25, 2021. The incident occurred during the students’ nutrition break. School administrators investigated the incident and disciplinary action was taken.
After leaving campus, one of the students involved was taken to the hospital by their family for a medical evaluation. The incident was then reported to the Menifee Police Department (MPD) and an arrest was made on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. The MPD investigation is currently ongoing.
An increased campus security presence has been provided to the school site. Understandably, the display of violence upsets our entire community. It is important to stress with our students that violence will not be tolerated. Harsh words and insults are the catalysts for most confrontations. All of us have a responsibility to prevent violent situations by teaching non-violent problem-solving.
We appreciate our community’s continued support.”
Contact the writer: [email protected]
Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.
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