Teens Face Charges in “Gang-related” Beating

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Police in Hazleton are charging three juveniles with what they are calling the brutal beating of a 13-year-old girl.

Investigators said it was gang related.

Hazleton police said they called in everyone for this investigation, from the FBI Gang Task Force to state police, county detectives and of course Hazleton police.

Now police have charged one juvenile girl and are searching for two others in connection with a gang beating.

Police said Altmiller Park in Hazleton was the scene of a brutal beating the afternoon of March 15.

They said a 13-year-old girl was standing near the Hazleton Area Middle School around 3 p.m. when she heard someone call her name. Before she could turn around, investigators said someone covered her head with a piece of clothing, shoved her into a vehicle and drove her to the park.

"The vehicle stops, she thinks that she escapes from the vehicle and starts to run at which time she is grabbed from behind by the hair, pulled down and immediately the juvenile gang members that were on the playground start to kick and stomp her face," said Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea.

Investigators said the girl's face was left battered and bruised before some folks living in the neighborhood stepped in to break up the attack and call police with information about the attackers.

"The community that lives around this park, immediately called 911 when they saw things were going on. They ran over, they broke up the fight, they tried to get the girl away from them and provide her with immediate first aid and trying to get help to her," said Hazleton Patrolman Brian Schoonmaker.

Hazleton police said they quickly learned the names of three attackers, all juveniles, ninth graders at Hazleton Area, and members of a gang responsible for the attack.

One of those juveniles turned herself into police. Police are searching for the other two.

Investigators said during the attack a group of 15 to 20 young people stood by and cheered.

Because the crime involves students and happened close to a school building, administrators are doing their own investigation of who was involved and how they will be punished.

"We will work closely with our local police, we will work closely with our state police and we will do everything we can to make these children feel safe," said Hazleton Area Principal Rocco Petrone.

"I would not want to be beaten the way that 13-year-old girl was. It's horrifying," Cheif DeAndrea added.

Police said the victim in this case is still recovering from the attack.

They are not sure why she was targeted, but continue their investigation.