The 16-year-old Arlington Heights teen charged in the videotaped attack on a high school senior recently moved to the Northwest suburbs from the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, his attorney said Wednesday.
The boy appeared in juvenile court Wednesday, one of seven teenagers accused of taking part in Sunday's attack on a 17-year-old Curie High School senior. The victim was repeatedly punched, kicked, sworn at and robbed of shoes and his wallet, according to the graphic video making rounds on the Internet.
Five boys and a girl made a short appearance in juvenile court Wednesday. A seventh suspect, 17-year-old Raymond Palomino of the 3500 block of South Hoyne, Chicago, is the only one charged as an adult. A $100,000 bond was set for him Wednesday in a separate court appearance at 26th and California.
The Daily Herald knows the Arlington Heights teen's name but is not publishing it because he has been charged as a minor.
Most of the juveniles -- including the Arlington Heights teen -- standing before Judge Terrence V. Sharkey Wednesday were Asian-American, like the victim. In response to his question, they all said they can speak English.
Sharkey said they are each charged with four felonies -- robbery, theft from a person, aggravated battery and mob action -- and two misdemeanors, battery and theft.
He released all the juveniles to their parents, and told them to return Tuesday for arraignment, when a Cantonese interpreter will be available, presumably for their parents.
The Arlington Heights teen was the only juvenile to already have a private attorney at today's hearing.
George Sarikos, whose law office is in Bridgeport, said he took the Arlington Heights teen into the police station Tuesday after Chicago police called the teen's mother to say the boy had been identified as a suspect.
He acknowledged that until recently the teen had been part of the Bridgeport Chinese community, so "I imagine he has extensive ties in that area," Sarikos said, offering an explanation for why he was in Bridgeport on Sunday.
The 16-year-old appeared in court in jeans and a black sweatshirt and was accompanied by his mother.
Sarikos said the mother is "exhausted," and he asked her in English if she wanted to talk to a reporter. "No," she said. Cantonese is her first language, he said.
Sarikos said the Arlington Heights teen is enrolled in high school in the suburbs, but would not name the school. Venetia Miles, spokeswoman for Northwest Suburban High School District 214, said Wednesday that a boy by that name enrolled in District 214 within the last few weeks. She would not name the school or where he came from.
Sharkey ordered the juveniles not to have any contact with the complaining witness, who was treated at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on Sunday and released. The judge issued other conditions, too, including 8 p.m. curfews.
"Things need to settle down," said Sarikos after the hearing. "There's been a lot of misinformation going on. Videos don't always tell 100 percent of what's going on."
In all, three male 15-year-olds, two male 16-year-olds, a 17-year-old male and a 15-year-old female were charged in the assault that made headlines after the beating was posted on YouTube.
In the video that went viral hours after being posted Sunday, the victim is repeatedly punched, kicked and taunted by the group of teens while laying prone on the ground in an alley.
During the attack, which lasted several minutes, one of the teens took a pair of gym shoes out of the victim's backpack, then others took his wallet. The wallet contained $180 in cash, officials said.
All the suspects except the Arlington Heights boy live in Chicago, the Chicago Police Department confirmed.
At a news conference Wednesday, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the video helped police catch the suspects more quickly, but it was a "double-edged sword" because people are posting threats on social media against those they think are responsible, and many of these accusations are inaccurate. Any violence as a result of those threats will not be tolerated, McCarthy warned.
The beating stemmed from a "prior altercation" in October, said police.
Commander Pat Walsh of Area One detectives said the October incident was "physical" and between two groups "as a result of teen disputes," but not reported to police at the time. Sunday's victim was part of one of the groups, she said.
"This is a group of high school kids who don't know how to manage anger and frustration," she said. "It's ongoing teen disputes that escalated to a physical altercation in October."
Police said they have not identified a ringleader in the attack, but McCarthy said the incident involved "mob mentality" and could easily have escalated to murder.
"There's a strong possibility" that the youth who was beaten Sunday was lured to the area by the young woman who faces charges, said McCarthy.
He praised the cooperation the police have received from the community in helping to identify the suspects. He said race was irrelevant to the crime.
Officials refused to answer specific questions about the Arlington Heights youth because he is a minor.