CHICAGO -- Chicago police don’t believe a teen beaten in an assault broadcast live on Facebook was targeted because he was white despite profanities made by the accused assailants about white people and President-elect Donald Trump, a police spokesman said Thursday.
Charges are expected later in the day against four black suspects, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press.
Guglielmi acknowledged that the suspects made “terrible racist statements” during the assault, but that investigators believe the victim was targeted because he has “special needs,” not because of his race. Still, Guglielmi said authorities are looking at whether the attack falls under hate crimes statutes.
Guglielmi says charges are expected later Thursday.
The four suspects, all of whom are adults, are in custody after the disturbing live-streamed video showed the duct-taped man allegedly being tortured in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side, CBS Chicago reported.
In the video, the 18-year-old victim’s clothes were cut, he was peppered with cigarette ashes, and then his hair cut with a knife until his scalp bled.
Several people can be seen laughing and eating as the attack is going on. Someone off-camera uses profanities about “white people” and President-elect Donald Trump.
“It’s sickening,” Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson said Wednesday. “It’s sickening. You know, it makes you wonder what would make indiduals treat somebody like that.”
The victim, who has mental health challenges, was a high-risk missing person from northwest suburban Crystal Lake. The victim was a classmate of one of the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said. CBS Chicago reports the suspects are believed to have stolen a van and taken the victim from the suburbs into Chicago.
Guglielmi says it’s possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family. The victim’s family reveived text messages from the suspects during the kidnapping, reports CBS Chicago. Eventually, the victim was untied and released.
Investigators said the victim was with his attackers for up to 48 hours, and the attack left him traumatized.
“He’s traumatized by the incident and it’s very tough to communicate with him at this point,” Duffin said.
Chicago police said in a statement that while on patrol, they saw the disoriented male walking outside. He was then transported to an area hospital for treatment.
At about the same time, police took several people into custody at a nearby address where they found signs of a struggle and property damage. Investigators determined that the missing man had been at the same address.
When asked Wednesday about the racial comments on the video, Duffin said the four people in custody were “young adults and they make stupid decisions.” Investigators will have to determine whether the racial remarks were “sincere or just stupid ranting and raving” when considering a potential hate crime charge, Duffin said.
Police haven’t identified the individuals in custody, but said three are Chicago residents and one is from suburban Carpentersville. Guglielmi said the suspects are all age 18 or older, and that police were working with prosecutors on Thursday “to build the strongest case.”