Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A 13-year-old boy was referred to Juvenile Probation for assault after reportedly attacking a disabled man near Thriftee Food & Drug on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
According to a Safford Police report, a woman witnessed the attack and then chased off two boys who she believed looked like they were about 10 years old. The woman told the officer that she saw two juveniles on scooters ride up to the man and one of them pushed him to the ground. She said the juvenile then swung his scooter and hit the man with it.
The woman then intervened and the juveniles allegedly cursed at her but left on their scooters. The second juvenile – a 15-year-old boy – was initially listed as an investigative lead but was later classified as a bystander by the police.
The officer recognized the victim as a man who has both physical and mental disabilities who goes to Thriftee daily to get a fountain soda.
The victim, who can barely walk, told the officer that he was attacked and that the same juveniles harass him every day. The victim asserted that he wanted to press charges by nodding his head when posed the question by the officer and saying the word “jail.”
While the victim did not know the juveniles by name, the officer recognized who they were by the description given by the witness. Upon arrival at the suspect’s residence, however, the suspect’s grandmother said both boys had gone to a friend’s house. The officer advised the grandmother of the situation and said he would return the following day.
On Thursday, the officer returned to the home and spoke with the 13-year-old juvenile after he read his Miranda rights to him and spoke to his mother.
The suspect allegedly said he was riding a scooter with the second subject when the victim yelled something at them. The suspect said he yelled profanity at the victim, and then the victim approached him. The juvenile said he believed the mentally and physically disabled man was going to fight him, so he punched the man in his chest, causing him to fall to the ground.
When asked if he believed the disabled man could defend himself, the juvenile said he did not and that he had made a mistake. He also denied harassing him previously and said the 15-year-old didn’t do anything to the suspect.
The officer then advised the 13-year-old juvenile suspect and his mother that he was going to refer the suspect to Juvenile Probation for assault.