4 Ossining Teens Charged in Youtube Fight
Posted by shadmia on March 1, 2008
Four Ossining school teens were taken into custody by the police on Wednesday, following the posting on Youtube of, what the police are calling, a gang assault on another teen. Arrested are: Dujuan Harris, Damian Gillespie, Von Thomas and Austin Campbell. They were all charged as adults with first-degree gang assault, a felony, which could land them in prison for as much as 7 years. All four have been suspended from school.
The attack occurred in a church parking lot near the Ossining High School. The victim of the assault was identified as Christian Vega. A 16-year-old girl was also punched in the face as she tried to intervene. All of them are students of Ossining High School in New York. The police say the fight was over an unidentified girl.
The video, filled with violence and profanity, was the talk of the High School as many students viewed the footage before it was taken offline. Click here to see the video
In every single class, people were asking, ‘Did you hear about this?’ ” said sophomore Dustin Capek, 15. “It’s an eye-opener that this could happen here. I think it’s kind of weird that people have the time to record it and put it on YouTube and not call anybody.”
The video, lasting 1 minute and 14 seconds, shows the victim being kicked and punched by 4 attackers, three of them 17 and a 16-year-old. The victim is 18. A knife was also involved in the fight but did not cause serious injury. Police didn’t learn of the incident until Wednesday, when the victim and other witnesses came forward. After an investigation the four suspects were taken into custody. Two were arrested in the school principal’s office; the others turned themselves in at Ossining police headquarters. All but Austin Campbell posted $5,000 bail.
Spencer Thomas, an Ossining activist, and father of one of the teens arrested, Von Thomas, spoke with reporters after he picked up his son:
“My son was defending himself against a kid with a knife,” Thomas said today. “I look at the video and see the kid had a knife and was swinging wildly, and that these guys were trying not to get hurt. They were defending themselves.”
Police said they were unsure who brought the knife, but one of the attackers slashed the victim in the neck with it, causing a 6-inch cut. In the video, taken by one of the attackers with a cell-phone camera, one boy shouts, “This dude’s got a knife,” apparently referring to the victim. Von Thomas later takes hold of what appears to be a knife and makes a slashing motion across the victim’s neck. Police wouldn’t comment on Spencer Thomas’ account.
Despite feeling his son’s actions were in self-defense, Spencer Thomas said he is upset over his son’s behavior.
“Of course I’m upset with my son,” he said. “Who wants their son fighting?”