COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - All eight suspects are in custody after a brutal attack in Five Points early Monday morning which left the teenage victim in critical condition, according to Columbia police.
Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons said 19-year-old Thyeem Henrey was charged with second degree assault and battery by mob, common law robbery, and criminal conspiracy. He appeared in court Friday afternoon where the judge set bond at $750,000. That bond does not allow Henrey's release upon posting only 10%, which is sometimes permitted by the court.
At his first court appearance on the latest charges against him, Henrey gave no indication what might have led to Monday morning's savage assault. But he cried as the frustrations of the victim's parents boiled over. "I'm having to give you my right to judge whether he deserves freedom or not," said Strange's mother Vicki. "That's hard for me. But since Carter didn't fight against them eight Sunday, I'm going to fight for him now. I'm going to fight for him until my last breath."
"I pray that you get your life right," said Strange's father John. "Find God. If you pray for forgiveness, he will forgive you. I don't have that in my heart right now. Maybe one day, but not today.
The 19-year-old is the only adult in a group of eight being held by Columbia police. The other seven suspects are all juveniles, according to Timmons. Their names cannot be released.
She said a 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and 16-year-old were charged with strong arm robbery, second degree assault and battery by a mob, and criminal conspiracy.
A 13-year-old and three other 16-year-olds were all charged with criminal conspiracy, according to Timmons.
Similar hearings will be held for the juvenile suspects. One of the 16-year-olds also had a bond hearing Friday afternoon, but reporters were not allowed inside.
Timmons said most of the suspects turned themselves in with their parents after the surveillance footage was shown on the news.
Police Chief Randy Scott said the 18-year-old victim, later identified as Carter Strange, was jogging through a parking lot near the intersection of Blossom Street and Saluda Avenue just after midnight on Monday when the assault happened. "This teenager was minding his own business, trying to make his curfew when he was brutally attacked and robbed," said Scott.
Police said Henrey and the seven juveniles he was with were roaming Five Points, targeting others until they came across strange. In fact, investigators said the group tried unsuccessfully to rob or assault at least four other people.
They've been dealing with a flood of angry reactions from the public. "I've been on the phone all day fielding calls from the community about increasing patrols in Five Points, and what I have to explain is I'm responsible for Columbia, not just Five Points, not just the Vista," said Chief Randy Scott.
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Vicki said her son was headed home after visiting a friend slightly past his midnight curfew. "At 12:07 he wasn't home, I called him and said 'Carter where are you?'" recounted Vicki. "He said 'Momma, I'm almost home. I'll be there in just a minute.' At 12:15 I called, but the phone was dead."
Timmons said surveillance video taken in the area shows four of the suspects running towards Carter, though police only released video of the suspects walking on Harden Street. Investigators believe the suspects assaulted Carter and stole his cell phone before leaving him in the parking lot.
After the assault, Scott said Carter managed to make it a block down the road to Edisto Avenue, where a passerby found him two hours later and called 9-1-1. Carter was taken to a local hospital, where he is still in critical condition.
Vicki said she rushed to the hospital and found a son she could barely recognize. "I literally bent over him; I recognized his hand and his hair, and I said 'that's my son,'" Vicki told WIS News 10.
Carter's family told police the beating was so severe he required emergency surgery to remove a brain clot. He had his second surgery Friday afternoon, which was for facial reconstruction. It's Carter's latest step in a long road to recovery. "He did nothing to them," said Vicki. "They didn't know him, they didn't know the kind of person he was, they don't know the kind of man he's grown up to be and they don't know the lives he's touched. But they thought he was so less of a person, they thought this would be okay."
Carter's family told WIS News 10 he recently graduated from Dreher High School. "As a parent, you don't want to see your kids hurt," said Carter's father, John Strange. "I'd give anything to trade places with him that night and now."
"We got lucky he didn't die," said Vicki. "Next person won't be lucky. If they did this now, what's to stop them from doing it again?"
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