Eight high school students in Las Vegas, Nevada have been arrested on murder charges in the fatal beating of a young man during a brawl over a pair of stolen headphones, police announced on Nov. 14.
Jonathan Lewis Jr., a 17-year-old student of Rancho High School, was put on life support with “non-survivable head trauma” after he was attacked by a gang of 10 teenagers on Nov. 1. He was pronounced dead on Nov. 8.
“I’m here to announce that we have eight suspects in custody,” Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. Undersheriff Andrew Walsh said in a press conference. “Those eight suspects will be charged with the crime of murder.”
“During our investigation, we quickly learned that the fight was actually over a pair of stolen wireless headphones and possibly over a stolen marijuana vape pen,” Las Vegas police homicide Lt. Jason Johansson confirmed, “incidents that occurred earlier in the week.”
According to investigators, a friend of Mr. Lewis had his items stolen by a group of 15 students, after which the two parties had agreed to a fight after school in a nearby alley. Investigators believe that the victim wasn’t supposed to be involved in the fight but had decided to take it up for a friend.
On a GoFundMe page set up on Nov. 6, the victim’s father wrote the following:
“We have been given a statement from our son’s girlfriend that what occurred was that one of his smaller friends had something stolen by this group of 15 and they threw the small boy in the trash can and our son confronted them and he was attacked by them. He’s a courageous young man!”
Left for Dead
Mr. Johansson said the victim engaged one person, but as soon as he threw his first punch, 10 others jumped him, threw him to the ground, and began kicking and stomping him until he passed out. He was left for dead.
A citizen found Mr. Lewis Jr. unresponsive and carried him back to the school, where staff called 911.
The Las Vegas coroner’s office has ruled the beating a blunt force trauma homicide.
Police said they are looking to identify two more suspects, who also will be charged with murder.
The arrested suspects are between the ages of 13 and 17, police said. Their identities have not been made public due to their legal status as juveniles.
However, police are working with the local district attorney’s office to determine if they can face the murder charges as adults.
“This should be a reminder to all of us to have those difficult conversations with our children, and remind them that their actions have consequences, their actions have lasting consequences, their actions have life-altering consequences,” Undersheriff Walsh said.
“Hopefully the kids can learn from this so we don’t have another incident such as this,” Mr. Johansson added.
According to local police, it’s common for students to take their issues off campus to avoid school repercussions.
Police called upon the public to tell them if they recognize any other participants in a video of the attack being circulated on social media, or to share additional videos with police should they find them, or report it through Crime Stoppers of Nevada, Inc.