Four teenagers were arrested in Chicago on Wednesday for torturing and beating a man with mental health problems, in an attack streamed live on Facebook. Police are investigating whether this was a hate crime, as the assailants shouted racial abuse and made anti-Trump comments during the assault.
Here’s what we know so far:
- The four people detained — two men and two women — are all aged 18. Investigators are questioning them in relation to the attack, which took place Tuesday in a flat on Chicago’s West Side. The victim was discovered by police wandering the streets in a disorientated and distressed state after the assault.
- The victim had not been seen since his parents dropped him off at a McDonald’s in the Chicago suburb of Streamwood on Saturday. They reported him missing on Monday and soon after received text messages from someone “claiming to be holding him captive.” Police believe the victim knew at least one of his attackers.
- At a press conference late Wednesday, Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson said the suspects were likely to be charged within 24 hours and could expect to feel “the full weight of the Chicago Police Department.”
- The 30-minute video shows the victim cowering in the corner of a room bound and gagged with the four assailants taking turns to attack him. As well as kicking and punching the man, the attackers can be seen cutting his scalp with a knife, dropping cigarette ashes on him, and forcing him to drink out of a toilet.
- The police are investigating whether or not this was a hate crime. In the video the attackers can be heard saying “Fuck Trump” and “Fuck white people.” The victim was white and the four attackers were black. Police said they are trying to ascertain whether this was sincere or just “stupid ranting and raving.”
- The age of the attackers will be taken into account when bringing charges. “Although they are adults, they’re 18. Kids make stupid decisions,” Commander Kevin Duffin of the Chicago Police Department said. “That certainly will be part of whether or not … we seek a hate crime [charge].”
- The attack was streamed live on the Facebook page of one of the suspects currently in custody. At one point it had 16,000 views on Facebook and was shared more widely on Wednesday when it was put on YouTube. After police discovered the video, Facebook removed it, saying, “We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason.”
“It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that,” Johnson said during a press conference. “I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve seen things that you shouldn’t see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still see things that you just shouldn’t.”