Belleville, IL (KMOV.com) -- Two students have been charged after a student was beaten on a school bus.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida said one juvenile, age 14, was charged with 3 counts of Aggravated Battery, the other juvenile, age 15, was charged with 2 counts of Aggravated Battery and 1 count of Criminal Damage to Property. The Aggravated Battery charges are Class 3 Felonies. The Criminal Damage to Property charge is a Class A Misdemeanor.
On the issue of hate crime, Haida stated "No evidence is present to suggest that the motive for the conduct was the race of the victim. Illinois law requires such evidence in order to support that charge. Illinois law is clear that the fact that a defendant and victim are of different races is insufficient without more evidence to support a hate crime charge."
According to authorities, a 17-year-old student was beaten two different times by two different students while enroute to Belleville West High School on Monday morning.
According to Belleville Police Captain Don Sax, the victim was attempting to find a seat on the bus and several students refused to let the student sit next to them.
Sax says that the student asked one of the suspects if he could sit down, and the video shows the suspect shaking his head. The bus driver then told all of the students to find a seat and began to drive. Sax says the victim is seen moving the suspect's backpack out of the way and sitting in the seat. That's when the attack happened.
Surveillance video on the bus shows the suspect attempting to push the victim out of his seat and then beating the victim by punching him in the face and choking him.
The victim again sat down in his seat and after a few minutes, the second suspect is seen walking over to the victim and striking him in the face.
When first asked if the incident was racially motivated, Sax said, "If you watch the video, it's a strong suggestion that it was obviously race-related. Both of the suspects are black, one white victim." Now the police department told the school Superintendent Greg moats that the fight was not racially motivated.
Dr. Moats said he wants everyone from the ranking Belleville officials to the average Joe to realize his district will not stand for this type of violence. Moats followed through by suspending the students who fought. No word yet on how long the suspension would last.
Police have not released the names of any of the students involved.
The victim did not go to the hospital, but Sax says he did suffer some cuts and bruises on his face.
The bus driver will no longer be driving school buses for the Belleville district.
The driver is not employed by the district. But even though he followed procedure, the district doesn't want him driving its students.???
There is no word whether the driver will still be employed by First Student, Inc.
Belleville's police chief stepped up security at city hall because of threats stemming from the school bus attack.
The mayor's office has reported getting threatening phone calls.