A Massachusetts man is accused of trying to run over a group of Black children following a racially charged playground fight with a group of white children.
Shane Belleville, 36, of Holbrook, is charged with assault and battery and four counts each of assault with a dangerous weapon, a civil rights violation and assault with the intent to intimidate based on race. He was jailed Thursday, but later released after posting $750 bail.
“I was extremely dismayed to learn the details of this incident, from the children being racially divisive toward each other to the abhorrent behavior and alleged hate crimes committed by the suspect in this case,” Holbrook police Chief William Smith said in a statement. “This type of behavior has no place in our community, and I am calling for our community members in Holbrook to come together to recognize the gravity of what took place in our town.”
Police officers responded April 10 to Holbrook Middle-Senior High School, where a young complainant said a man in a red pickup truck had attempted to run over him and a group of his friends. Through witness interviews and video surveillance footage, detectives determined that the incident began that afternoon with an argument between two children, ages 7 and 8, on the school playground.
One child was Black and the other was white.
Other children, ranging in age from 9 to 15, joined the fray.
“The incident escalated, with racial epithets being used, and the altercation became physical, though no serious injuries were reported,” police officials said. “At one point, one of the juveniles called a relative and asked a man, later identified as Belleville, to come assist them.”
By the time Belleville arrived, the children had cooled off and the fight was over, authorities said.
The group of Black children was heading away from the school when Belleville is accused of driving his red Ford F-350 onto the paved path and confronting them. During the subsequent shouting match, a teenage girl allegedly spat on Belleville.
He slapped the girl in the face, police officials said.
Belleville then got back into his truck and put it into reverse, backing toward the children while spewing racial epithets, according to authorities
Investigators determined that the children had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.
Belleville then drove away. He was arrested five days later.
Smith indicated it is up to adults to set a positive example for children and teach them not to target one another based on race.
“We need to have real conversations with our children and with each other to avoid this type of situation from ever happening here again,” Smith said. “I am committed to being part of the dialog.”