A 16-year-old St. Paul boy was kidnapped, assaulted, robbed, and shot at with a BB gun before his assailants let him go. The boy is on the autism spectrum and, as reported in the January 14th St. Paul Pioneer Press, had been ‘led away from a trip to the supermarket by a friendly face.’ Five people, including two teenagers, have been arrested.
Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulties in social situations and social cues and in making and maintaining friendships. These difficulties are exacerbated for adolescents and teenagers, especially in a setting like high school. In this case, it seems that the perpetrators took advantage of the teenager’s disability, exploiting his wanting to have friendships.
The full account from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
According to a criminal complaint, the victim was walking alone to the Cub Foods store at the Sun Ray shopping center in St. Paul on Dec. 23 when he ran into the first juvenile, identified only as “M.D.C.,” who was “acting very friendly toward him” and “asked him to hang out.” The boy agreed.
The pair met up with four others and walked together to a deserted space close to Conway Recreational Center. At that point, the five closed in on the boy, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. One then pulled out a gun, the boy told police.
They took his money, CD player, headphones, camera, cell phone and bottle of ginger ale — all the while telling him they knew where he lived and would “return and hurt him and his family.”
But it wasn’t over, the complaint says. The group then pushed him against a wall, punched him in the chest and stomach, then shoved him face-first into the snow and told him to stay there.
The man with the gun then put the weapon against the victim’s head and pulled the trigger.
“The impact of the BB hurt,” the complaint states. “Up until he was shot with the BB gun, he thought the gun was a real gun and he thought he would die.”
The man with the gun then shot the victim again, in the cheek.
After a few more threats to the boy’s family, the group then reportedly “made the victim run around in circles and laugh out loud” before they let him go, the complaint says.
Anthony Ramos, 24, his reported girlfriend, Tiffany Clock, 21, Trenton Johnson, 22, of St. Paul, and two juveniles (whose names have not been released due to their age) have been arrested.
My friend Emily, who has a son on the autism spectrum, has started an anti-bullying advocacy program, End the Bullying. She has written frankly about her son’s horrendous experiences being bullied at a public school in Texas, about other children who have been terribly bullied (and have, in some cases, taken their own lives). She provides a 3-point roadmap to end bullying and an extensive list of resources, with an emphasis on books and other materials that address the issues kids on the autism spectrum face.
The violence against the 16-year-old didn’t happen in school. But how can we teach and help kids like him both to better navigate the chaos of society, and to protect themselves?
Photo by Firesam!.
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