2 in custody following alleged battery at Knox Park
KNOX — A 13-year-old-boy is in custody for the alleged battery and hospitalization of another boy, 14. On Monday, July 21 at approximately 6:33 p.m., Knox Police reports indicate the 13-year-old male entered Wythogan Park in a gold passenger car, occupied by five subjects. The 13-year-old suspect allegedly got out of the car and approached the 14-year-old male and hit him in the head. Witnesses told police the victim fell to the ground immediately, striking his head on the concrete walkway.
Knox Police Officer Chad Keen arrived at the park, after 911 dispatch had received a citizen's request for medical staff at the park. The caller told dispatch that a 14-year-old male subject had been battered by another juvenile male.
Emergency medical personnel were already on site with the alleged victim when Keen arrived.
The victim was transported to IU Health Starke Hospital and later flown to Riley's Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
The vehicle the suspect was traveling in was later located by an off-duty La Porte City Police Officer in the Parkview area. Subsequently, a 13-year-old male was detained, preliminarily charged with battery, and turned over to the Starke County Probation Department.
Police also arrested Samantha Smith, 19, on Tuesday night, July 22 on a preliminary charge of "assisting a criminal".
Knox Police Chief Clint Norem said that police discovered that Smith was allegedly the driver who transported the 13-year-old male to the park for the alleged attack and then drove him out of the park once he allegedly knocked his victim to the ground.
"We learned she was driving the car; and she attempted to hide the car and the suspect is the reason why she was arrested," Norem said.
At this time, Smith and the juvenile suspect are the only ones charged in the incident and in custody. However, Norem said that could change.
"It's an ongoing investigation — there may be more arrests made," Norem said.
No motive for the attack has yet been given. Knox City Police Chief Clint Norem said that the occupants of the gold vehicle indicated that the two male subjects argued. But Norem said witness testimony contradicts their statements.
Norem said he believes the 13-year-old suspect should be facing two counts of aggravated battery because another juvenile male, who had visible signs of battery on his face, told police that he too had been allegedly assaulted by the 13-year-old male suspect the day before the incident at the Knox Park.
There have been a lot of rumors circulating about escalating violence in the park. But Chief Norem said this is not a new occurrence.
"There have been fights down at the park for years. The only thing we could do to put a stop to that is station 24-hour security in the park," Norem said.
Knox City Police do patrol the park. But Norem said it's a matter of being in the park at the time a fight occurs, which usually doesn't happen.
"We do regular patrols at the park. We had a couple of officers stationed down there for a couple hours with thermal imaging and nothing happened. We had another officer down there on a gator, again with thermal imaging, for four to six hours and again nothing. It's a matter of catching them at the right time," Norem said.