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6 Held In Beating Of Teen Posted On YouTube

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An attack on a teen in Bridgeport was recorded and posted briefly on YouTube. (YouTube)

An attack on a teen in Bridgeport was recorded and posted briefly on YouTube. (YouTube)

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UPDATED 01/17/12 8:05 p.m.

Editor’s Update: Seven teens now charged in attack. Click here to read more.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Six people were being questioned by police Tuesday in a brutal attack on a 17-year-old boy in the Bridgeport neighborhood, which was videotaped and posted on YouTube.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the assault happened shortly between 4 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. Sunday behind James Ward Elementary School in the 2800 block of South Princeton Avenue, just south of Chinatown.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said that detectives are still looking for two more suspects, and the six already being held will soon be charged.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve got the makings of wrapping this thing up,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got six people in custody. We’ve got two more people identified, who we’re out looking for right now.”

McCarthy said the attack was not racially motivated, but was in retaliation for an earlier incident, in which 20 people attacked two teens.

“It appears to be retaliation for a previous assault. We’re confident that we’ve got the right people in custody. We think that we’ll be charging them very shortly.”

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, the victim allegedly took part in an October attack in which 20 teens jumped on two others.

The 17-year-old victim was jumped by seven offenders and was robbed of his gym shoes, wallet and money, police said.

The video shows the young men chasing and surrounding the boy, who is clad in red sweatpants, and relentlessly attacking him. They drag him, only to punch and kick him some more. He was punched and kicked repeatedly in the face.

Some of the assailants hit the boy with chunks of ice and choked him. Finally, he laid there helpless as he was beaten. It went on for 3 minutes and 39 seconds, as an accomplice shot the video.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine watched the video with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who called it an example of what he considers a disturbing and dangerous trend.

“It’s crazy that people think that … look, this guy’s getting in there and taking closeups,” McCarthy said as he watched the video. “The fact that these kids think its okay to video this; which they’re doing on purpose, it didn’t happen by accident, somebody didn’t just say, ‘Oh, I have a phone, let’s tape this … it’s deliberate.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “Those kids doing that to another child is wrong. It is not tolerable and it does not represent what this city’s values are and the good people of this city.”

The victim eventually broke free and ran, only to have the suspects chase him down the alley.

The victim was treated and released for minor injuries at Mercy Hospital, ultimately suffering only a few cuts and bruises.

“Fortunately, you know, we don’t have serious injury or death here,” McCarthy said. “Someone picks up a brick, who knows, right? So, that’s the next step in this evolution. It becomes almost like a gateway,” McCarthy said.

According to police, the robbers took about $180 from the boy.

McCarthy said, unfortunately, it’s not an isolated incident.

“This isn’t new, unfortunately. This is a dynamic that’s been going on for a while,” McCarthy said. “Almost common, let’s put it that way. We just had an incident with a homeless getting man knocked out on a train platform, right? We were able to make arrests on that very quickly, but it’s the same exact thing. They did it on purpose, they taped it on purpose and then they put it up on YouTube.”

Asked if that’s just an invitation taunting police to find the suspects, McCarthy said, “I don’t think they think in those terms, I don’t. I think they’re thinking, you know, ‘Let’s brag about this crazy stupid thing that we’re doing.’”

“Looking at these kids, you think they know what consequence means, quite frankly?” McCarthy added. “I don’t think they know what consequences are.”

It is believed that the victim lives in Chinatown, not far from where he was attacked. Sources said he attends Marie Curie Metropolitan High School. The attackers are students at Thomas Kelly High School.

“It is awful. It’s awful that somebody around here got beaten up; young, very young,” said neighborhood resident Yan Li, who herself has an 8-year-old son and worries about him in the community.

“Pretty unnecessary, basically,” added parent Gervon Jean-Baptiste. “But what can you do? Just make sure the neighborhood watch is a little better or something; next time somebody sees something like that, they call the police or something. Instead of sitting back and letting it happen, maybe they should have called the police. They could have handled it.”

The video was posted on YouTube and removed twice. But a Reddit page on the attack drew more than 500 comments. Many even provided the names of those allegedly involved in the beating.

Community activist Andrew Holmes says social media is a useful tool in solving the crime.

“It was just disgusting, but I’m glad that the people are calling the Chicago Police Department, and posting information on video and on YouTube,” Holmes said.

In fact, police found out about the beating because so many people called them and showed them the YouTube video.

McCarthy said charges will come shortly against the six suspects now being held, and the other two wanted people are expected to surrender.

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