Witnesses of an attack on a teenage boy in Winona, Minnesota, say ongoing racial tensions in the community may have fueled the confrontation.
On Aug. 24, an 18-year-old driver hit 4-year-old Damajae Winn outside an apartment complex in the town, which is 110 miles southeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to law enforcement, when the teenager got out of the truck to check on the boy, he was beaten by up to 10 onlookers.
The child and the driver were both taken to a hospital in Winona to treat their injuries on Aug. 24, according to The Associated Press.
While Deputy Police Chief Tom Williams said 10 people attacked the teenager, Winona Police Chief Paul Bostrack said the number of attackers was two or three.
Brook Schrumpf, a 13-year-old who is dating the driver of the vehicle, and who was in the pickup truck at the time, said the driver did not see the child until after the accident happened.
“We didn’t see him until after the fact,” she said. “We didn’t see him until he was lying on the ground. He’s like, ‘I’m pretty sure I just hit a kid.’ I’m like, 'Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.'”
Schrumpf also said that when the pair got out of the vehicle to check on the boy, the 18-year-old was jumped by neighbors who had witnessed the accident.
“His mom kept screaming at me,” Schrumpf said. “You’re a racist b--- and just yelling at me and all these guys were coming at Ryan and hitting him.” Schrumpf later admitted that her boyfriend’s vehicle used to fly the Confederate flag. A few months ago, the flag was stolen from the vehicle.
“It was nothing towards them,” Schrumpf added. “We didn’t even see the kid, so it was rough with everybody saying it was because we had the Confederate flag out.”
Damajae’s mother said her son was released from hospital on Aug. 25. She said he has to wear a neck brace and had some scrapes and bruises to his face.