Hate crime charges are pending against a Minnesota mother and her grown children following a fight at a St. Louis Park high school that forced officials to cancel classes last week.
Hennepin County prosecutors on Friday charged Latoys Milon, 41, and her children Abreeha Smith, 22, and Jerome Smith, 19, with gross-misdemeanor counts of third-degree riot and bias-motivated fourth-degree assault over the Jan. 18 altercation at St. Louis Park High School, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
The charges stem from the three, who are Black, allegedly targeting Somali students at the school after Milon’s 16-year-old daughter, a St. Louis Park junior, called Milon to complain she was “jumped” by a group of Somali girls, according to the criminal complaint.
Police were called to the school shortly after 2 p.m. as Milon leveled threats at students, and officers met with her and an assistant principal. The complaint contends body camera footage captured Milon shouting at students: “Ya’ll one of them? Girl I swear to God all y’all finna get it!”
According to court documents, Milon added: “I’ll fight any Somali that comes down those stairs, bro,” Milon said, according to court documents cited by KARE. “These Somalians think they running s***, but they met their match.”
A review of school surveillance video revealed the fight the 16-year-old referenced initially involved Jerome Smith and a male Somali, with the 16-year-old “seen voluntarily entering the physical altercation at point and … throwing punches at another female student, contrary to what (she) initially reported,” according to court records.
As the family was leaving the school, there was more drama in the school parking lot, where Jerome Smith, Abreeha Smith, the 16-year-old daughter, and Milon’s 14-year-old son were witnessed by an officer “all actively fighting several Somali students, (with) some pinned up against a vehicle,” the complaint read.
“The group was actively punching, striking and grabbing several Somali students,” it read.
Video showed Milon throwing punches as well, KSTP reports.
One female victim told police Jerome Smith choked her with both hands, and Abreeha Smith decked her in the face. Others alleged strikes from Milon’s 16-year-old daughter, and Abreeha Smith, while a male Somali student who was left with cuts on his legs and wrist, a swollen eye and busted nose, told police he believed he was targeted in the ambush simply because he is Somalian.
Milon and her adult children fled the scene as additional police officers arrived on scene.
“Milon and Abreeha Smith were taken into custody on the day of the fight and were later released,” KSTP reports. “Jerome Smith was charged via summons and has yet to be taken into custody.”
The brawls convinced school officials to cancel all classes and activities last Friday to sort out the situation.
Police spokeswoman Jacque Smith told the Star Tribune “the investigation into this fight by the St. Louis Park Police Department remains active, with the likelihood of additional charges at some point in the future.”
The fight is among numerous examples of school violence that has increased in many school districts following government-imposed school closures during the pandemic.
A 14-year-old student in North Carolina faces a murder charge after a 15-year-old student died and a 16-year-old was hurt in a November fight at Southeast Raleigh High School. The student charged was attacked by a mob of classmates, and used a knife to stab the student who died as he was “fighting for his life,” the teen’s mother, Cherelle McLaughlin, told WRAL.
Also in November, teachers at Charlottesville High School in Virginia refused to come to work over what some described as a lack of consequences for bad behavior that contributed to numerous fights, according to The Daily Progress.
“Today we had roving bands in search of the next fight, multiple fights from which to choose, and hundreds of kids filming and cheering,” CHS counselor David Wilkerson posted to Facebook.
Those incidents came just days after eight Las Vegas teens were charged with murder following a fatal beating of a classmate over a pair of wireless headphones and a marijuana vape pen, according to the Associated Press.
The fatal fight, which was also recorded by students, is among scores of others in high schools across the Clark County School District in recent years that have forced school officials to repeatedly lock down classrooms to control the melee, NPR reports.