MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Neighbors say racial tensions likely fueled an attack on a teenager who hit a boy with his truck.
The 18-year-old hit 4-year-old Damajae Winn Monday night at an apartment complex in Winona.
Police say when he got out to check on the boy, as many as ten people beat him up.
Both he and the boy ended up in the hospital.
Thirteen-year-old Brook Schrumpf was in the truck with her 18-year-old boyfriend when he struck 4-year-old Damajae on Monday.
“We didn’t see him until after the fact,” Schrumpf said. “We didn’t see him until he was lying on the ground. He’s like, ‘I’m pretty sure I just hit a kid.’ I’m like, Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.”
Faint tire marks show were Schrumpf said her boyfriend slammed on the brakes. Several neighbors witnessed what happened.
“His mom was holding him, he was bleeding pretty bad,” Tamara Witherspoon said.
She said they got out to see if Damajae was okay when her boyfriend was jumped.
“His mom kept screaming at me,” Schrumpf said. “‘You’re a racist b—-‘ and just yelling at me and all these guys were coming at Ryan and hitting him.”
He was pushed to the ground, hit and kicked.
A Confederate flag that used to stick out the back of the driver’s truck may be what caused tension in the neighborhood. Schrumpf said a few months ago the Confederate flag was stolen and burned.
“It was nothing towards them,” Schrumpf said. “We didn’t even see the kid, so it was rough with everybody saying it was because we had the Confederate flag out.”
Witherspoon doesn’t agree with what happened, but admits there’s a history with the driver flying the Confederate flag in the neighborhood. She thinks the built-up racial tension exploded when Damajae was hit.
“They probably wouldn’t have jumped on him if he hadn’t been, you know, provoking people around here,” she said.
Damajae’s mother said her son is out of the hospital Tuesday night. She said he has a neck brace as well as scrapes and bruises, mainly to his face.
The driver of the pick-up off camera said he is doing okay. Swelling and some bruises on his face were visible.
Police said they are investigating both incidents — the child being struck and the attack — separately.