Family alleges bullying after Gonzales Middle fight leaves 1 hospitalized, 4 facing battery charges

Source: Family of hospitalized student
Source: Family of hospitalized student

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - One student is hospitalized and four others were arrested after a fight at Gonzales Middle School Wednesday.

It remains unclear what caused the fight but family members say it broke out in a bathroom on campus around lunchtime.

Family members released gruesome images to 9News that show what they say is the aftermath of the brutal fight.

The young boy's aunt released his name but because he is a minor, 9News has decided to withhold that information and only reveal that he is a 13-year-old 8th grader at the school. He was taken by ambulance to Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital in Baton Rouge following the fight where family says, among other injuries, he has at least two knots on his head and a busted lip.

The student will remain in the hospital overnight and the full extent of the damage is still unknown as doctors continue to run tests.

Brian Palmer, his uncle, says the young boy is in and out of consciousness but they have not heard much about his condition.

"They checked him for a concussion and I'm not a physician but I do know that he's in and out of it right now," said Palmer.

Palmer says his family is devastated but not surprised by the attack. They claim it is not the first time they have called the school over what they allege is a constant cycle of bullying.

"Bullying is real and I don't have the whole story at school but I do know that four guys attacked him," Palmer added.

Those four guys were arrested and removed from the school after the incident according to Gonzales Police spokeswoman Charlotte Smith.

"There was a fight and four students involved in the fight at Gonzales Middle School were arrested this afternoon around 12:43," said Smith.

Two of the students arrested are being held at the St. Bernard Juvenile Detention Center because they had other charges and two others have been released to their parents at this time, Smith confirmed late Wednesday evening.

Those students who were released will have to go to court but because they are juveniles Smith says they are not given a bail or bond.

Smith says the students who remain at the juvenile detention center have to appear before a judge within 72 hours from the incident. That judge will decide whether they will stay in juvenile detention or be released to their parents to await their court date.

Three of the students are charged with second-degree battery and the fourth is charged with simple battery, Smith added.

The names of those arrested were not released because they are juveniles.

While police continue to look into the matter, they say it is ultimately up to the school and school system to decide what, if any, disciplinary action may be taken against those four students.

Jackie Tisdell, a spokeswoman with the Ascension Parish School System, told 9News late Wednesday they will not decide what actions are appropriate until after the investigation into the matter concludes.

She released the following statement Thursday morning on behalf of the school system:

Ascension Public Schools is committed to the safety and security of its schools. An unfortunate incident occurred on one of our campuses between children and is being thoroughly investigated. Per law, policy, and good practice, the details of the incident will remain confidential to the legal guardians of the minors involved. We will continue to assess and monitor the behaviors that go on at our campuses and make any corrections that may be needed to continue our commitment to a high quality of safety.

While one of their own spends the night at the hospital, relatives of the teen hope others will talk with their kids to hopefully put a stop to alleged bullying at school.

"Once we get that solved, my nephew wouldn't be laying in the hospital right now with a neck brace, an IV, and a busted lip," said Palmer.

As family members wait for the teen's recovery though, they are also hoping for answers from the staff at Gonzales Middle School.

"When my nephew was getting attacked like this, I would like to know where they were," said Palmer.

WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked Palmer if he feels like he will get those answers from the school system.

"I hope so," Palmer replied. "I really hope so."

When asked if he felt like an arrest was appropriate, Palmer said he did not want the other students to suffer in jail but he does want them to learn a lesson from this incident.

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