Authorities have arrested and charged five girls in connection with an apparent mob attack on two middle school girls. Video of the incident went viral after being uploaded online.
The April 12 incident started when Samantha Gonzalez and friend Christina Campos, both 14, walked through Astoria Park along with three others. Campos told Gonzalez she feared being attacked after several girls had confronted her at a McDonald’s the day before. As the group continued their walk home, about 25 people, including high school boys and girls, approached them and violence broke out.
“I was just in shock because I was getting hit in all different directions,” Gonzalez said. “Not only was I scared, but I had no one to help me. Everyone was watching and recording.”
The recording of the fight shows a group of teenage girls pushing and shoving each other. Then one girl is pushed to the ground and dragged by the hair while being repeatedly kicked and punched.
After Gonzalez’s mother, Nina Kunicki, received a call about the attack, Kunicki ran to Gonzalez’s aid. Kunicki took her daughter to Elmhurst Hospital, where she was examined.
Campos had her eyebrow cut open after allegedly being kicked in the face multiple times. Gonzalez said she suffered bruises to the face and a fractured nose.
“You’re not supposed to be afraid walking to a park where you’re supposed to have fun,” said Kunicki, who grew up in Astoria.
She said she has never heard of attacks like this.
“No one should be in charge of destroying your life,” Kunicki added. “Don’t be afraid to speak out.”
Kunicki reached out to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. Vallone also found out about the violent video through one of his Facebook friends, and immediately took the incident to police.
“There are so many troubling things about the incident,” Vallone said. “The kids found time to encourage it and post it online. None of them put any importance in stopping the beating.”
Police are still looking for four other girls involved in the incident in addition to the five suspects already arrested. Vallone is concerned about a lack of police officers and park officials. He feels they could have prevented the fight.
“We’re doing all we can as a society to try to prevent bullying,” said Vallone. “This is an example of something much worse than bullying and when it reaches this level, we are not talking about counseling and prevention, we are talking about punishment.”
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