As further details emerge about the alleged hate crime involving three white teenagers who reportedly restrained and threatened a black classmate, forcing a noose around his neck twice and shouting racial epithets, community members are expressing concern about the severity of the crime.
"It's not right to be doing that to anybody," Brendan Baker, a student at Brother Rice High School, where 17-year-old Joshua Merritt and two of his attackers attend, told Patch. "I'm in [a] morality [class] right now. We went over this a lot today."
See video above for more responses from students.
Authorities revealed Thursday that the Dec. 23 attack took place at the home of a Cook County state's attorney's employee, the parent of a 16-year-old accused of being involved in the incident, the Chicago Tribune reports. The prosecution of the teenager in question will be handled by the Illinois attorney general's office to avoid a conflict of interest. The 16-year-old, another 17-year-old and Matthew Hermann, 18, face criminal charges.
The school is rallying behind Merritt, and has "removed" one of the suspects from the all-boys Catholic school, according to Fox Chicago.
"We're not going to tolerate any sort of behavior that detracts from the safety and the purpose of our school environment," Brother Rice President Dr. Kevin Burns told Fox. Burns called the incident "disturbing," but said the school hopes to use this opportunity "to teach our young men that there is a right and a wrong way to handle things, and clearly this was one was handled very, very poorly."
See video below for more on the school's response.
Joshua's father, William Merritt, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his family is "grateful that it didn't escalate further" and that his son made it home alive and expressed concern that the incident could have happened at Brother Rice. But Joshua Merritt told the newspaper he has no hard feelings towards the school, which he called his "second home."
"The people there are so supportive," he told the Sun-Times. "Even with this, it's just one bad egg in the bunch."
Patch reports that the Dec. 23 incident has been under investigation by the Chicago Police Department for several weeks, but charges were only filed this month. The school held a faculty meeting Thursday and addressed students about the incident during announcements.