Five Boys Face Charges In Robberies, Hate Crime

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

Five Fairfax County boys, ages 12 to 14, have been arrested on felony charges in connection with a series of December robberies and a hate crime related to an assault against a 48-year-old man, police said yesterday.

Two other youths, a 13-year-old Fairfax girl and a 15-year-old Alexandria boy, were also charged this week with malicious wounding and robbery in one of the incidents.

Police said a group of African American boys targeted a random person in the hate crime Dec. 19 in the Mount Vernon area. Authorities refused to specify the victim's race or ethnicity. All of the boys suspected in the crime are from the Hybla Valley area, police said.

The incident unfolded as a 12-year-old boy was walking with 15 to 20 friends on Ladson Lane and told them a made-up story about being assaulted by a group of people of a certain race, Fairfax police Officer Camille Neville said. The boys decided to retaliate against the first person of that race whom they could find, she said.

"As soon as he made those allegations, . . . it fuels up the kids. It sets the fire and gets the ball rolling," Neville said. "His buddies were like, 'Let's go out, and the first one we see, we're going to beat him up.' That's how it went down."

The group of boys spotted a 48-year-old man walking nearby and started to punch and kick him. The boys also tried to rob the man, Neville said, but they fled with nothing. A police officer who drove by the scene found the victim shortly after the suspects had fled, Neville said. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Police said the man did not know he was attacked because of his racial or ethnic background. It was only during the investigation that police learned what had motivated the boys.

"I don't think the suspects hate the people of this race on a regular basis," Neville said. "I think they were upset that a group of people had targeted their buddy. They may have construed it as a retaliation for attacking their friend. Will they attack every person of that race? I don't think so."

Police said two of the boys suspected in the hate crime also joined the 13-year-old Fairfax girl and 15-year-old Alexandria boy in a robbery Dec. 17. The girl was arrested at Carl Sandburg Middle School, and the boy was arrested at Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, police said.

The four youths were walking between a movie theater and a Wal-Mart in the area of the Route 1 corridor when they found a 24-year-old man and kicked him and beat him with beer bottles, police said.

All seven youths had been detained at the Fairfax Juvenile Detention Center, police said.

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