LAPEER – Three teens allegedly jumped and savagely beat a Lapeer teen at the Lapeer Community Center (LCC) after he and two other teens beat them in a pickup basketball game on November 27. A mother of young children stopped the fight as she and her children were leaving the pool area before the perpetrators were kicked out of the Rec Center without calling the police.
The victim’s mother called the police after she picked up her sons from their time at the gym and she is filing a police report. She took her son to the emergency room and was later released with minor injuries.
Rodney Church, director of the LCC, has reviewed video footage of the incident with the mother, who spoke with the Tribune on condition of anonymity to protect her son. Church has forwarded the video footage to law enforcement.
The victim, 15 years old, and his two friends were playing basketball on the nearly empty court as they do most days. These boys are home schooled and often spend hours there after finishing their schoolwork on weekdays, honing their abilities as they compete for local home school competitive travel teams.
Three other teens approached them and started heckling the homeschool kids, evidently wanting to play against them in a pickup game. They tried to shrug them off, but eventually relented and played a game against them. After beating the teens, the talk allegedly devolved into obscene verbal abuse from the perpetrators.
At this point, according to the mother’s account of the video footage, all three perpetrators singled out her son, jumped him and started beating him.
“It came out of nowhere,” his mother said. “They just jumped my son and started punching him, throwing him against a brick wall, beating him in the head with a basketball.”
“It looked like they would continue until they killed him. It was terrible to watch. I managed to hold it together while I was there with Rodney, but when I got back into my car I just cried my eyes out.”
Her son’s friends tried to protect him, tried to get the perpetrators off of him, but they couldn’t. Finally, her younger son, 11 years old, who was on the other side of the gym, saw what was happening and screamed at the top of his lungs.
A mother with young children who was leaving the locker rooms heard the screaming and yelled at the perpetrators until they stopped the beating. She then went to get the staff’s attention. At that point, two staff members came to the gym, but the fight had ended, and the perpetrators fled to the locker room.
It appears the staff members were not clear on the details of what had happened, but when the perpetrators exited the locker room they were escorted off the premises. They examined her son’s injuries, which did not appear to be major, and let the boys go without calling 911.
“The whole time this happened I was in my car having no idea what was going on,” the victim’s mother said. “We do this almost every day, where I drop them off to play basketball and pick them up at a certain time. They came out at that time and got in my car. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, they immediately told me what had happened.”
She called 911 to file a police report then took her son to the emergency room where they did a thorough examination. He had sustained bruises on his head, face, and throughout his body, but the injuries were minor.
The mother did some investigative work on her own and was able to discover the perpetrators’ identities and names. The mother and her husband plan to press charges against the teens.
The mother said she’s not going to let a few bad apples spoil her sons’ enjoyment of the LCC, and they are already back on the court. “They’ve been doing this for about a year, going over there one to five times a week,” she said. “They’ve never seen anything like this happen. Sometimes, they’ve seen adults yelling at each other when a large group of adults are playing together, but they’ve never felt unsafe there before.”
The Tribune reached out to LCC Director Rodney Church for comment, and he said he would not comment on the incident, as it is under investigation by the City of Lapeer Police Department.
There are multiple reports of similar and recent incidents from witnesses. However, the other incidents do not appear to be linked to the same alleged assailants.
The Tribune has recently been made aware of this ongoing problem that has almost entirely gone unreported to police and the public by LCC Management
Correction: The Tribune previously reported that the alleged assailants were students at LakeVille High School. According to the LakeVille School District, that was incorrect. We have edited the story to remove mention of LakeVille High School.