MCKEES ROCKS, Pa. (KDKA) - Family and friends are pushing for harsher charges for a man who allegedly attacked a teen outside of an abandoned school.
KDKA-TV sat down with 14-year-old Tristin Dean, her attorney, friends and family on Friday. They said Dean and her friends were sitting on the steps of the abandoned Miles Bryan School in McKees Rocks and decided to peek inside the building through an open door. Then they saw the driver of a pickup truck coming towards them.
"We just see a big red truck coming at us, like full force through the grass and everything. So, we started running," Dean said.
The group of girls started to run and hide. They said the man driving got out of his truck, chased after them, grabbed Dean and threw her to the ground.
Cellphone video captured part of the incident. Dean's attorney Blaine Jones asked her if she feared for her life and she said she did.
"He kicked me on my side, he threw me down, he had me down and both of his feet were clenched against my body. I couldn't move," Dean said.
The teens said they recall being terrified as the man kept yelling cruel things at them. They said he said he owned the building.
"He said, 'You people are a disgrace.' He said, 'Look at all you people.' He kept saying it over and over. I thought he was being racist because majority of Black people and you say, 'You people' and you're talking to a whole bunch of minors, I didn't feel like it's as OK," said Ciana Mason.
"It was just very traumatizing to hear my friend screaming my name and I couldn't help her," Jezmira Martin said.
Jones said the man's name is Frank Cupelli and his charges matched court paperwork, including two misdemeanor charges of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. There is also a summons for disorderly conduct.
Jones said the charges are not enough and should be felonies.
"We are going to ask the district attorney's office to upgrade these charges. These should be felony charges," said Attorney Jones.
The teens said they did not go into the building.
"While she's down, he kicks her in the side. This is a 14-year-old. Then he stands over top of her, squeezing her side with his feet, while yelling at her, "You people should know better, your parents are a disgrace.' Does she deserve that for looking into an abandoned building?" Jones said.
Dean's mother, Katrina Christy, said she is thankful that her daughter is OK, but she's infuriated about what happened.
"Thought the charges were going to be a little bit more than what they are. For you to do that to a 14-year-old, to pick up my daughter like she is a piece of meat, and to kick her in her side, I'm just not happy with that," Christy said.
She said Dean had to go to the emergency room because her sides were hurting, and there was a footprint on her.
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