PBSO released a statement Dec. 27 that said a deputy met with West Boca Raton High School officials and confirmed the identity of all the suspects involved. The suspects and their families have been interviewed. All participants agreed the fight was over "a boy" and "a video that was circulated." All parties agreed to meet and to fight and a specific location and time. A PBSO deputy is preparing paperwork to charge the suspects with simple battery. Once complete, the investigation will be submitted to the state attorney’s office. PBSO said there was no evidence of a hate crime.
The video is causing a stir both locally and across the nation.
Recorded Thursday afternoon, it shows a group of girls attacking 14-year-old Manaal Munshi.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says Manaal, who goes to West Boca High, was involved in an ongoing dispute with a girl from Olympic Heights High.
Investigators say the two agreed to meet at South County Park Thursday.
Manaal was under the impression they were going to talk about their differences, but PBSO says the other student told Manaal they were going to fight.
We don’t see what leads up to the confrontation - what we do see - several girls attacking Manaal as a group of students sit back, watch, and record with their phones.
“Not just one girl, four or five girls are hitting her, and nobody’s helping,” says Manaal’s dad Shakeel.
Speaking to me via Skype, he says his daughter is scared physically and emotionally.
“Her face is badly bruised, her eyes black, lots of marks on her face,” he says.
Shakeel believes the attack was a hate crime - saying his daughter told him kids at school have mocked her Muslim religion and called her a terrorist.
“We will kill you, we will fight you, we will hit you and all these kind of things,” Shakeel says.
PBSO maintains at no time was race or bullying ever discussed, determined, or considered to have played a role in the altercation.
Instead, they believe the entire situation may be over a boy.
Shakeel says he’s not sure if his daughter will return to school.
Superintendent Robert Avossa released a statement on the incident:
"I am aware of the incident that occurred off campus with these students, and I am saddened by this senseless violence. I am further concerned about individuals who stood by to videotape the incident instead of coming to the assistance of their peer by calling 911. As a community, we cannot ever get to a place where we are passive bystanders of such acts. We must expect more from one another and certainly, I expect more from our students."
PBSO says charges are pending, as they speak to school officials and identify the kids in the video.
Investigators are encouraging anyone who saw the fight to come forward with information.