PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department Bias Crimes Unit is investigating after an 8th-grade boy was allegedly assaulted and called a racial slur.
It happened on April 9, and police have not made an arrest.
“I think it just takes time and it takes time to replay. I didn’t see the scene but to get rid of that image for me, to stop replaying that in my mind of him just getting unprovokedly hit," said Jacki Ortega, Abraham Ortega's mom.
The Ortega family is still trying to process what happened to Abraham.
“I think we're all just in shock that it happened," Abraham said.
Abe was over at his friend's house for a birthday party with a group of other middle schoolers. They went for a walk heading to a nearby lake. He said his friends decided to ding dong ditch a couple of houses along the way.
They noticed a house with older teenagers inside. Abe stayed back as some of his friends approached and rang the doorbell.
Chased and attacked
12 News interviewed several kids who were there but are not identifying them because they are minors and fear being bullied.
"We ring the doorbell and then everything kind of just happened," one kid said.
They said the older teens inside yelled and started chasing them. Some were by foot and others got into a car. The kids ran.
“They were like, 'you really messed up,'" one witness said.
Ultimately, Abe said he decided he was going to try to diffuse the situation.
“I went over there and then the, I'd say the ringleader, the guy was leading the group, he like tried to make me flinch to intimidate me or something," Abe described. "But he did a little push at me. I said, 'Don't push me.' And then next thing I know I'm on the ground.”
Abe, apparently punched, fell to the ground. He shielded his face from further injury.
That's when Abe's friends say the 17-year-old who was assaulting him called him the N-word.
“I was like, 'Why? Why would he do that?' And I just kind of was terrified," one witness said.
Witnesses say the older teens took off with the exception of one who walked the middle schoolers home. That's when the Ortegas got the call - not only about Abe's injuries but about the racial slur.
"When we first heard that he was hit or got into a fight, I've got five boys so to me that's okay. Kids get into fights," said Luis Ortega, Abe's dad. "When we heard the N-word, that was urgent."
A possible hate crime
The Ortegas called Phoenix PD who quickly realized this was a case for the department's bias crimes unit which investigates racially motivated crimes.
Abe's injuries then became more apparent. His jaw was sore, his eye was cut and swollen shut. His tooth was fractured.
“He said the N-word and that just scared me a lot. He thinks he it’s okay to say that and it’s not," said Abe's twin sister through tears.
The seriousness of the alleged assault and the racist language used weighs heavily on Abe's six siblings who weren't there.
“How he can just openly say the N-word and just call him that and do what he did is very disturbing," said one of Abe's older sisters.
Phoenix PD says the case is still open and active. Now, the Ortega Family is forced to wait.
"Life moves on for him you know? And our family is here to deal with this. And we, you know, we want to see justice," said one of Abe's older brothers.
The Ortegas felt compelled to share this painful story to raise awareness.
They want the 17-year-old suspect charged as an adult and they want him charged with a hate crime.
12 News made attempts to talk to some of the families of the teens involved, including the suspect's. The families declined to comment or didn't respond.
The suspect attends Chaparral High School. The Scottsdale Unified School District released the following statement:
"We would not comment on any ongoing investigation or specific student disciplinary actions. I can tell you, when we learn of an off-campus incident, we cooperate with police and let their officers complete their investigation. Once we have the facts, then the administration would determine if the code of conduct had been violated."
VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Un alumno de octavo grado de Phoenix fue agredido en un posible crimen de odio
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