On the way to Belleville West High School on Monday morning, a 17 year old student was beaten twice by two other students. The school bus was equipped with surveillance video that Belleville police released to us.
The video is difficult to watch. You can see a student boarding the bus and within a minute he is beaten by one student. I counted at least 13 direct punches to his face.
Within five minutes, another student gets up and punches the 17 year old victim again. This time, I counted at least 8 blows - all to the face.
The victim put his hands up to try and protect his face, but he did not hit back.
Police say the victim did not have to be hospitalized. There's a chance his parents took him to a doctor later, but I don't know for sure. Police say the student suffered cuts and bruises to his face.
The students accused of punching him are 14 and 15 years old. According to police, they were sent home with their parents. Police plan to take the case to the State's Attorney on Tuesday.
We blurred the faces of the students directly involved in the incident because the students who did the punching are juveniles and may be charged with a crime. We blurred the victim's face because his identity has not been released by police or the school district.
Overall, from this 12 minute clip of video, it appears there is a lack of discipline and control on the bus. You can hear the bus driver yell for the students to sit down several times, but the driver continued to drive and pick up other students.
It's not clear whether the driver called police or the school for help during the incident.
Dr. Greg Moats is the superintendent of the Belleville Township High School District 201. I spoke with him late Monday evening. He said he was not aware of previous problems or bad blood between the students involved in the incident. He also said he has not yet spoken with the bus driver.
The driver is employed by First Student, which contracts with the school to provide transportation service.
I asked Dr. Moats if there is a policy that prevents bus drivers from stopping the bus to stop a fight. Dr. Moats said that the district is seeking answers from the bus driver and added that student safety is the first priority.
Dr. Moats said the school is still determining if and when the students will be punished. He saw the video and said that it's likely the school will take disciplinary action.
The student that was punched is white. The two students who punched him are black. Police said this may have been racially motivated, but that observation is based solely on what can be seen in the video.
The police captain I interviewed explained that you can see two black students who appear to refuse to allow the victim to sit next to them on the bus. Then, of course two students who hit the victim.
Police were not aware of previous reports of racial tension between the students involved. It is probably too soon to say if race is factor and if so, to what degree race played a role in this incident.