Alabama teen suffers broken skull, police suggest racial motivation
Brian Ogle, 17, was beaten by several people in a parking lot on Friday night in Sylacauga, Alabama, according to reports. A large group of students had gathered in a downtown Sylacauga parking lot where Ogle was confronted by multiple black teens, according to Sylacauga Police Chief Kelley Johnson.
"It seemed to be a planned incident. They planned it, this kid was singled out for some reason," Johnson told WBRC.
Police said there is no clear motive for the assault, though Johnson indicated to WBRC that the assault was racially motivated. Ogle's mother said it may stem from an altercation that started at school and spread to threats on social media.
"Some people didn’t take kindly to some words on social media. They went overboard and overreacted. Drastically overreacted," Johnson said.
Brandi Allen, Ogle's mother, said her son had worn a "Blue Lives Matter" shirt to school in response to other students wearing "Black Lives Matter" shirts.
"Instead of us planning for his 18th birthday, we're here. Why? Because he made a statement that he backs the blue? I'm still trying to understand how someone, no matter the color of their skin, can do this to another human being," she said.
Ogle's Facebook page contains shared posts in support of US police, even in specific cases where black people have been shot by police under dubious circumstances, including the recent fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, and of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma. The Facebook page also includes several shared posts communicating a distaste for recent demonstrations of protest by National Football League players during performances of the national anthem prior to games. Those protests are a result of anger and frustration over inequalities in the US and police violence reflective of what is, essentially, large-scale immunity for on-duty police officers who have killed people, mostly black men.
Johnson said he had interviewed several witnesses, family members, and other persons of interest in the case. The chief said the number of those involved could be between five and 60. Police have increased patrols around the school following the assault.
Allen said her son's skull is fractured in three places.
"Apparently he was hit with something that is possibly to be the butt of the pistol. He has stitches and he has real bad bruising on his shoulder. There's a lot of wounds on the back of his head from being hit as well," she told WBRC.
She said her son showed his principal threats he had received on social media, but nothing came of it.
"My son took it to the principal at Sylacauga High School and I commend him for that. He showed her the threats that were being made to him, but she told him there was nothing she could do. I'm appalled," Allen said, adding the school had a job to do "and they failed to do it."
She said she wants the persons responsible for the assault to be "put in jail."
"I don't want any other mother to have to go through what I went through these past few days," Allen said.
On Monday, the head of the Talladega NAACP met with Johnson to offer help smoothing over any racial tension.
"We don’t want anyone else hurt," Rev. Hugh Morris said.