Family members claim the girl’s mother, father and stepfather acted in self-defense after they found the 17-year-old boy in their daughter’s bedroom closet.
The Washington Post could not reach Amaya, Arguello or Suarez on Monday, and it is not clear whether they have attorneys. The three are being held without bail, according to court records.
The boy was visiting the 15-year-old girl at her home early Thursday morning when members of her family arrived and “became irate and started assaulting” the victim, San Bruno Police Lt. Ryan Johansen said in a statement. Restraining him with rope, they continued to assault the teen and threatened to kill him, police said.
The suspects, who are all Hispanic, used racial slurs against the teen, who is African American, Ryan said. Police have not named the alleged victim.
Eventually, Johansen said, they let the boy go, and he fled, getting treatment for non-life-threatening injuries and reporting the attack to police.
Johansen said police executed a search warrant on the home where the alleged assault occurred and collected evidence. The San Bruno Police Department did not respond to inquiries from The Post on Monday.
The suspects’ children have defended their parents’ actions. Katherine Gomez, an elder sister of the 15-year-old girl, told ABC 7 that the boy punched her mother.
“Then my stepdad, of course, is not going to let anyone hit his wife,” said the sister, who recalled coming out of her room Thursday morning after hearing the altercation. “They tried to stop him, and he was acting very violent, so they grabbed a rope to try to tie him down and ask him why he was at the house.”
Gomez denied that the adults used racial slurs or hurt the boy.
People’s ability to legally use force to protect themselves is highest inside their homes, California criminal defense lawyer Ambrosio Rodriguez told The Post. You’re within your rights to shoot a middle-of-the-night intruder in your house, he said, whereas in public you could respond to someone only with “reasonable and proportional” force, such as a punch for a punch.
But the crux of the San Bruno case, he said, is whether the parents acted with genuine fear of a stranger or realized the boy’s relationship to their daughter and decided to teach him a violent lesson.
“If a strange person comes into your house, you have the right to restraint. You have the right to use lethal force,” he said. “But the issue here is … whether they were doing it for sadistic reasons.”
A neighbor who lives a few houses away, Jorge Flores, said he heard a boy screaming in pain, ABC 7 reported.
Hate crimes are increasingly common across the country, according to a report this month from the California-based Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. Total hate crimes rose in 2018 for the fifth year in a row, increasing by 9 percent in 30 large U.S. cities, the group’s analysis says.