Crime & Courts

Crystal Lake teen assaulted on Facebook Live likely not targeted because of his race, Chicago Police say

From YouTube
The victim of an alleged kidnapping and assault is seen in a still from a video streamed live on Facebook.
From YouTube The victim of an alleged kidnapping and assault is seen in a still from a video streamed live on Facebook.

Chicago police said Thursday they don't believe a man beaten in an assault broadcast live on Facebook was targeted because he was white despite profanities made by the accused assailants about white people and President-elect Donald Trump, a police spokesman told the Associated Press.

Four teens face felony charges after a video of a duct-taped teen from Crystal Lake being tortured in Chicago was streamed live on Facebook, police said.

“It’s sickening,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat someone like that.”

Charges are expected soon against four black suspects, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the AP. He acknowledged that the suspects made "terrible racist statements" during the assault, but that investigators believe the victim was targeted because he has "special needs," not because of his race.

Guglielmi said it's possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim's family, according to the AP.

The Streamwood Police Department said the 18-year-old victim in the video, who suffers from a mental health illness, was a high-risk missing person from Crystal Lake. Streamwood police said the victim's parents reported his disappearance late Monday evening after not hearing from him since Dec. 31, when they dropped him off at a McDonald's in Schaumburg.

During the investigation, the victim's parents began receiving text messages from people claiming to be holding their son captive, police said. While looking into the source of the text messages, Streamwood investigators discovered the Facebook video and recognized the missing person from Crystal Lake being physically and verbally abused.

In the video, the victim is seen being beaten, getting his hair cut with a knife and having ashes from what appear to be cigarettes dumped on him.

Throughout the video, the suspects made profane comments about Donald Trump and “white people,” and Chicago police initially said they were investigating the case as a possible hate crime.

Chicago police said the alleged assault took place Tuesday in an apartment in the 3400 block of West Lexington on the West Side of Chicago.

Officers found the victim wandering the neighborhood in a state of trauma. Authorities later drew the connection with the Facebook video, according to Chicago police.

"They saw that the individual was in distress, and they cared enough to do something about it," Chicago Police Capt. Steve Sesso said.

The officers learned that the individual they encountered in distress was reported missing from a suburban town, Chicago police said.

"So during the course of talking to this individual, who was in distress, they were able to determine the location ..." Sesso said.

Four teenagers – two men and two women – are in custody, and criminal charges are expected.

Three of the suspects are from Chicago, and a fourth is from Carpentersville, Chicago police said.

The victim was an acquaintance of one of the suspects, and they knew each other from school, but Chicago police said they are unsure how the other three subjects became involved.

The suspects stole a van and brought the victim to Chicago, where the victim is believed to have been with the suspects for 24 to 48 hours, police said.

"It's quite a possibility this is a kidnapping," Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said. "And that's certainly one of the charges we'll be seeking if it turns out to be that."

Upon initial investigation, it appears the suspects eventually unbound the victim and let him go, Chicago police said.

After being treated at the hospital, the victim was released to his family.

"He's traumatized by the incident, and it's very tough to communicate with him at this point," Duffin said. "We anticipate charges in the next 24 hours."

Chicago police said they don't believe the victim was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

"We'll keep investigating. We'll let the facts guide us on how this concludes," Johnson said. “I’ve said time and time again, if you commit an act of violence in the city of Chicago, you will feel the full weight of the Chicago Police Department. And tonight, four individuals have experienced the consequences of their actions.”

Chicago police said there's nothing at this time that would indicate the incident was politically motivated.

"I really can't say what's in the mind of four individuals that would do something as sickening as this," Johnson said. "Who knows; who knows?"

Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Tom Kotlowski said the victim from the live Facebook video could have been from Crystal Lake, but he wasn't certain because he did not have detailed information about the case.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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