Nine people arrested in connection with a deadly brawl in Georgia. Mugshots courtesy Richmond County Sheriff's Office
A dispute between two high schoolers in Georgia escalated on Friday to the point that nearly 50 people showed up at the house of a 15-year-old girl. What happened next was closer to a combination of A Clockwork Orange and Kids than your typical schoolyard scrap: Video footage shows young women hitting one another with fists, young men assailing each other with bats, and a rogue Dodge Charger almost running them all over.
Demajhay Bell, an 18-year-old, was fatally stabbed in the neck during the skirmish, and nine people have been charged with his murder, as the Augusta Chronicle reports. Among the suspects are the 15-year-old girl's mother, and another parent who apparently drove her daughter to the fight.
Local authorities are suggesting social media––basically the desire to end up on a site like World Star Hip Hop––might be to blame for the violence. Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the Chronicle fights in the area have been getting larger and more intense as of late. "With everything they do, (teens think) it has to be elevated so the world will take note," he said.
The mob was certainly a spectacle that required some effort to coordinate. But it's hard to explain Bell's murder, as he was apparently a non-participant who hid in a house for most of the fight, and was allegedly stabbed by a friend, 21-year-old Demetrius Lamont Harris Jr. A tenth suspect is still being sought.
Sheriff Roundtree told the Associated Press the fight started over a boy and some "racy photos." Apparently there was an original scuffle on campus, and lingering resentments played out on Facebook and through texts. Each girl gathered friends and relatives to settle the dispute in the streets, setting the stage for the tragedy on Friday.
In the two-minute video that's been circulating online, Bell can be seen running past the camera while bleeding from the neck as bystanders scream, "Call 911!" The mother of the 15-year-old girl has suggested she tried to drive him out of the fracas, but got out of the car when another scuffle broke out. Bell reportedly attempted to take the wheel himself, but ultimately a police officer took the teenager for the hospital, where he died Sunday.
"This is the epitome of a senseless murder," Roundtree said.
The sheriff suggested the charges were intended to send a strong message. Each of the nine arrestees is accused of aggravated assault and felony murder—or murder committed in the course of a separate felony. In Georgia, felony murder does not require intent to kill, but it does carry a life sentence.
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