Authorities in Alabama said four people have been arrested on felony assault charges in the beating of a 17-year-old boy.
The teen’s mother said her son — who had recently voiced his support for law enforcement amid protests over fatal police shootings — was severely beaten late last month during what she called a racially motivated hate crime.
Brandi Allen told Fox affiliate WBRC that her son, Brian Ogle, who is white, was assaulted following a Friday-night football game, suffering skull fractures in the Sept. 30 attack.
“Apparently he was hit with something — what is presumed to be the butt of the pistol on his face,” Allen said. “He has stitches and he’s got bruising, real bad bruising on his shoulder. There’s a lot of wounds on the back of his head from being hit as well.”
“Instead of us planning for his 18th birthday, we’re here. Why? Because he made a statement that he backs the blue,” she said, adding: “I’m trying to understand how anyone — I don’t care the color of their skin — could do this to another human being.”
Police said in a statement that four former students from Sylacauga High School were arrested in the assault but did not say whether Ogle knew them. Evidence obtained during the investigation does not suggest that any current students at the high school, which Ogle attends, were involved in the attack, police said.
The suspects were identified by police as 20-year-old Quartez Lamar Walker, 19-year-old Bobby Ronchea Brown, 18-year-old La Noah Grant Ealy Jr. and 20-year-old Daveon Shamareya Nix.
All four are black, police said.
Walker, who has been charged with first-degree assault, was being held on $20,000 bond, police said; Brown, Ealy and Nix have been charged with second-degree assault and were being held on $15,000 bond.
The Daily Home reported that Nix is the son of Sylacauga District 2 City Councilwoman-elect Tiffany Nix. Nix could not be immediately reached for comment.
It’s unclear whether the men have attorneys.
Allen, Ogle’s mother, said she was “happy” that the men have been arrested but wishes authorities had pursued harsher charges against them.
“I’m relieved that four have been arrested, but I’m not happy with the amount of the bond and the charges,” she told AL.com. “They should have been charged with attempted murder, by all means.”
Allen said her son has been in rehab for his injuries but is still in pain because, doctors say, he has fluid in his brain, according to the newspaper.
“He’s already done more than the doctors thought he would at this point, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that,” she told the newspaper.
Authorities and Sylacauga school district administrators said Ogle was beaten in an empty parking lot in Sylacauga after a high school homecoming game.
Allen told ABC affiliate WBMA that Ogle showed support for law enforcement in comments on Facebook after some students at his high school wore Black Lives Matter shirts to class. She told WBRC that Ogle received threatening messages and then reported them to the principal at Sylacauga High School.
A Facebook page that matches Ogle’s name and likeness includes posts about the Black Lives Matter movement and violent protests that erupted after fatal police shootings.
The page also includes a viral video that shows a black man giving hugs to police officers in Charlotte, where outrage spilled into the streets after an officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott on Sept. 20. That deadly encounter came just days after another black man, Terence Crutcher, was shot and killed by an officer in Tulsa while standing near his vehicle in the street.
The two shootings, four days and 1,000 miles apart, followed a tense summer filled with high-profile officer-involved shootings, as well as deadly assaults on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Police confirmed to WBMA that there have been race-related issues at Sylacauga High, which was placed on lockdown days before the attack amid what district officials called “rumors on social media regarding threats of violence.”
“While there has been no credible threat of violence made toward SHS, our school employees and police remain vigilant in carrying out safety measures,” Sylacauga Superintendent Todd Freeman said in a statement. “We urge students, parents, and community members to be responsible in the use of social media as it relates to rumors. We encourage everyone to report credible threats to the police immediately.”
Two days later, Ogle was assaulted, police said.
Police told WBMA race issues may have been a factor in the attack on Ogle, who is a student at the school.
Freeman said at the time that the district was working with police investigators regarding the incident and urged the community to come forward with any information.
“Our immediate concern is for the health and well-being of our student,” the superintendent said in a statement. “Every child who attends Sylacauga City Schools is part of our family and we are grieved that this happened to one of our own. We are steadfastly praying for healing and a full recovery.”
Authorities said that the police department increased security in the Sylacauga middle and high schools.
Sylacauga Police Chief Kelley Johnson called the assault a “senseless act of violence.”
He said in a statement that he knows some citizens are concerned that the police department or the state’s department of education will “sweep this under the rug.”
“But any intelligent person should see that that is not possible,” Johnson said. “I am not one to ‘sweep’ any crime under anything much less a crime as violent as this.
“I now ask everyone to pray for the 17-year-old victim of this assault, his family, the officers and investigators working the case, and while you’re at it, say a little prayer for our community as a whole so that maybe we can get past this and be a stronger community because of it. I call on our pastors and community leaders to step up and help us bridge this divide between the black and white races.”
Earlier this month, police responded to the high school when tension over Ogle’s assault erupted during a lunchtime scuffle, according to CBS affiliate WAIT.
“This past week we have experienced some difficult days in our schools and community,” Freeman, the superintendent, said in a statement following the incident.
The police chief said in a statement at the time that authorities had identified several people of interest and that investigators had met with the Talladega County District Attorney to obtain arrest warrants for the suspects.
Johnson said Tuesday that officers had “spent the day running the defendants down and making the arrests.”
Ogle’s mother told WBMA she wants justice for her son.
“I want to see them in jail,” she said of her son’s attackers. “This most certainly is a race issue; it’s a hate crime.”
The police chief said Ogle’s case will be considered a hate crime only if the district attorney determines a hate-crime enhancement can be proven. The district attorney said the investigation is still ongoing.
“My son could have lost his life,” Allen told WBMA. “I won’t stop until they are punished.”
This story, which was originally posted Oct. 4, has been updated.