Detroit Mob Attack Eyed as Hate Crime; 5th Suspect Arrested

Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 07:16 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A fifth suspect was arrested Wednesday in the Detroit mob attack that left 54-year-old tree-trimmer Steve Utash clinging to life. Police are trying to determine if the attack was a hate crime.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig refused to release the suspect's name or the details of the arrest during the news briefing Wednesday, saying only that the 19-year-old man "didn't turn himself in," The Associated Press reported.

The attack occurred on April 2 when Utash, a tree trimmer from Michigan's Macomb County's Clinton Township, was driving his company pickup truck and struck a 10-year-old boy named David Harris. The child had apparently stepped off the curb and into the path of the vehicle, as seen on a nearby storefront camera.

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Apparently believing he hit the boy, Utash pulled over. That's when he was attacked by the mob, which reportedly punched and kicked him repeatedly in the head until he was unconscious. He is currently in a medically-induced coma.

The child suffered an injury to his leg and is expected to make a full recovery.

The attack, which is said to have lasted several minutes, is believed to have included anywhere from six to 12 individuals, while dozens of other bystanders reportedly watched the beating unfold.

Police are currently investigating if the attack was a hate crime, considering Utash is white and his attackers are all black.

In addition to the 19-year-old arrested Wednesday, the other four men arrested for the vicious assault was 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold, 24-year-old James Davis, 17-year-old Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr. and 16-year-old Courtney Robinson.

The attackers were charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm charges. Bond was set at $500,000 for each, the AP reported.

Local church leaders have scheduled a prayer service for Utash for Thursday evening at Historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit.

"We need to send a crystal clear statement to the world that the violent actions of a few individuals will not cast a cloud of negativity over our city," the Rev. Jim Holley said Wednesday in a release. "We are inviting everyone to participate to show support that this is a region of hope, peace and renewal."

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