Officials shed new light on altercation involving teens outside La Jolla Recreation Center
The incident was between two students of Muirlands Middle School while other youths watched, according to authorities. The school holds a student assembly and police plan to increase their presence at the Rec Center.
In an attempt to clarify a report of a boy being beaten by other middle school-age youths near the La Jolla Recreation Center, officials said this week that the incident was between two students of Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla while several other youths watched.
The school responded to the matter by holding an assembly of all its students, and police promised a stepped-up presence at the Recreation Center.
The incident occurred Friday, Feb. 3, on the Draper Avenue sidewalk adjacent to the Rec Center. Some witnesses reported seeing a small crowd of teens and a boy being beaten and thrown to the ground.
Report of assault involving teens outside La Jolla Recreation Center prompts further community concern
Police and paramedics respond after witnesses say a boy was beaten by other youths. The incident happened days after a complaint of teens harassing younger children at the center.
One witness called 911 as most of the youths dispersed. Paramedics arrived to tend to the boy, who complained of stomach pain and said he was punched on the head.
San Diego police Lt. Bryan Brecht said the boy did not suffer serious injuries.
Brecht and Muirlands Principal Jeff Luna initially said the incident was under investigation and declined to comment about how many youths were involved in the altercation and how many were onlookers.
In the days afterward, many versions of the incident circulated in the community and appeared on social media, with various rumors about how many children were fighting, what prompted the fight and who was the aggressor.
On Feb. 9, while speaking to the La Jolla Town Council, Brecht said detectives contacted the boy, clarified details and identified the other youth believed to be involved.
Addressing rumors that the incident was racially motivated, Brecht said, “Based on information we have gathered so far, there is no evidence that this was a hate crime.”
Luna, who sent an email to Muirlands parents Feb. 6 condemning the incident, sent another email Feb. 9, saying the two students attend Muirlands and that they and their families had been contacted.
“Several other youths ... watched it unfold,” Luna said. “Some of the bystanders and onlookers attend Muirlands.”
Luna said he conducted an assembly with all Muirlands students Feb. 9 about “being compassionate about and celebrating our diversity [and] that we should consider how we will respond when we see or hear something inappropriate.”
Brecht said at the Feb. 8 La Jolla Shores Association meeting that because the case involves juveniles, “we’re not going to release too much more information.”
“If you run into any other issues which need a police response, please give us a call as soon as possible so we can get there and address it,” Brecht said.
The altercation occurred nine days after the La Jolla Community Recreation Group, an advisory panel that oversees the Rec Center, discussed a parent basketball coach’s complaint of harassment of her 5- to 7-year-old players by teenage boys during Friday afternoon practices at the center in January. One of the boys reportedly said he attends Muirlands Middle School.
It isn’t clear whether any teens involved in the harassment also had a connection to the Feb. 3 incident.
Brecht said a police officer would be posted at the Rec Center on Friday afternoons for the foreseeable future, depending on staffing availability.
Many in the community have said Rec Center staff members were not helpful in dealing with the situations.
Rec Center staff and the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department have not commented about the Feb. 3 incident. ◆
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