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Terror park aka Schiller Park Whad Up Blood?

Terror park aka Schiller Park Whad Up Blood?
Terror in the park
How marauding youths turned an idyllic evening into a nightmare
Sunday, April 27, 2008 3:45 AM
By Kathy Lynn Gray

Three people try their luck fishing in Schiller Park's pond. On the night of Oct. 6, Leisa Randolph and 13-year-old cousin Cody Young were fishing at this spot when a group of youths approached and attacked them. The youths moved on to attack a man and woman elsewhere in the park.

Doral Chenoweth III | Dispatch

Three people try their luck fishing in Schiller Park's pond. On the night of Oct. 6, Leisa Randolph and 13-year-old cousin Cody Young were fishing at this spot when a group of youths approached and attacked them. The youths moved on to attack a man and woman elsewhere in the park.
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Web Extra
Audio: Click here to listen to the victim's 911 call or read the complete transcript
Four people were beaten and robbed in Schiller Park on Oct. 6. Twelve youths were charged in the assaults, with the final case set for trial in May. The information in this story comes from interviews with the four victims, two of the defendants, a mother and a grandmother of two defendants, and county prosecutors and defense attorneys. One youth, in a juvenile-detention center, responded to written questions. Police and court records and courtroom testimony also were used to reconstruct what happened.

The night was warm, the air alive with chatter, as young women in heels and strapless dresses and young men in jackets began leaving the South High School homecoming dance.

An overtime football win against the Africentric Nubians the night before had set a buoyant tone for the dance. Because the South building was closed for renovations, the dance took place in the old Barrett Middle School on the southern edge of German Village.

A few blocks east, a crowd had gathered at a basketball court. Just after 11 p.m., Clyde Mann and brothers William and Cheyenne Cornett broke away to catch Clyde's brother, Dontae Mathews, in his homecoming finery.

Fresh from the dance and hungry, Dontae and his girlfriend, Al-Nisha Hayes, were headed to McDonald's on S. High Street.

The two groups met within minutes in Schiller Park, joined by others along the way. Most were on foot; a few rode bikes. By the time they spotted three people fishing in the park pond, they were about 15 strong.

Perhaps the size of the group affected their sense of right and wrong. Perhaps the Bloods among them wanted to show they were gang-tough.

The mob surrounded the three at the pond and attacked.
A fishing trip

Plenty of people fish in the pond at Schiller Park, but Leisa Randolph, 27, was particularly serious about it.

So when she took her 13-year-old cousin, Cody Young, and her aunt fishing on Oct. 6, they carried a backpack full of hooks and lures as well as assorted rods and three tackle boxes. They hoped to land a catfish or a bluegill, maybe a bass.

By 10:30, it should be late enough and quiet enough to attract a few choice fish, Randolph thought as they unpacked their gear along the north bank of the pond.

About an hour later, Cody had just felt a bite on his line and was trying to reel it in when Randolph noticed they were alone at the pond. She felt spooked, she said, and suggested they pack up.

That's when she saw all the kids.

"We seen them way off in the distance -- they were coming around the recreation center," she said. "Before we knew it, there were two or three of them riding up on bikes, and the next thing you know, they're all back behind us."

She, her aunt and Cody were surrounded as they knelt on the ground to pack the tackle boxes.

"Whad up, blood? Whad up, blood?" Randolph remembers the yells.

At 11, Cheyenne Cornett was the youngest in the group. Another youth told him to hit Cody.

Cody responded with a curse, said William Cornett, 14, although Cody disputes that. But Cheyenne hopped off his bike and shoved Cody, nearly pushing him into the pond. Within seconds, three or four youths were hitting Cody, one with a tackle box and others with their hands. At one point, William said, Cody threw a tackle box at them.

When Randolph tried to stand, one youth motioned for her to stay put. Then someone pulled a white "Jason" old-school goalie's mask over his face, pointed what she assumed was a gun from under his white T-shirt and said, "This is a holdup."

"I said, 'You're kidding, right?'" she remembered. "He said he wasn't."

Cody was still being struck, with some in the crowd yelling, "Yeah, yeah, come on" and laughing. One youth tried to grab Randolph's tackle box; the lock broke, and hooks and lures spilled into the grass.

Someone grabbed her backpack. Others ordered Randolph, her aunt and Cody to stay on the ground. The kids began to walk away.

Randolph dialed 911 at 11:33 and talked frantically into her cell phone as she, her aunt and Cody ran for her minivan, parked on Deshler Avenue.

The dispatcher told her, "Just lock your van doors. The officer's on the way."

Randolph screamed, "They're coming back. I can see them!"

But then, as a cruiser pulled up a few seconds later, she noticed that the youths were out of sight, behind a hill.

And she remembers thinking, "What are they doing?"
Admiring the gardens

About the same time, a Columbus business executive and an out-of-town friend were walking through the park fter a late dinner. Diana T. Nave, a real-estate agent from Lexington, Ky., wanted to see the formal gardens, and they headed toward the statue of German poet Friedrich von Schiller.

"We looked up and saw a bunch of kids around the statue, mostly boys, but one girl on a bike," said the executive, 68, who did not want his name used because of fear of retaliation. "We were talking about a tree and didn't think anything about the kids."

He had his back turned, but Nave, 65, was facing the crowd and heard "a lot of whooping" as the youths approached. Then one turned quickly and knocked her friend to the ground.

"I got hit from behind with something, right in the back of my head," he recalled months later, pointing to the spot. "My knees immediately went out from under me."

As Al-Nisha Hayes and two boys restrained Nave, Dontae Mathews and others kicked the man in the head, arms and legs as he tried to shield his face. He inched forward on his knees, but the blows kept him on the ground.

He remembers thinking, "Are they trying to kill me?"

"Nobody was saying anything," he said. "They were just all kicking me."

"What do you think you're doing?" Nave demanded before she, too, was knocked down. She saw her friend struggle to his feet and run about 10 feet before the bigger boys pushed him down again and kicked him.

Nave managed to get up, but three youths stood in front of her, demanding the two gold necklaces she had around her neck.

"No!" she shouted as she gripped the chains. She managed to stuff one in her pocket, but the other was grabbed.

The teen with the mask then shouted, "I want your damn money!"

For the businessman, that was the breaking point. His fear and pain changed to anger, and he managed to stand up.

"I don't have any money!" he shouted back. Tensed for more blows, he watched as the youths began to back up and run away.

He thinks now that's when the first police car arrived at the park in response to Randolph's 911 call. The cruiser jumped the curb from Deshler Avenue and stopped where he and Nave stood.

By then, the crowd was gone. The officers spoke briefly to Nave and her friend, who then walked to his home nearby.

"There was blood all over him," Nave said. "When he stood up, he had a terrible pain in his back and bruises all over the place. They'd turned his face into a soccer ball and come perilously close to hitting him in the right eye."

One of his ears was black from the blows.
The chase

By then, police were in pursuit. A helicopter helped pinpoint the scattering youths.

Some were picked up in the park, others in nearby yards and alleys.

By 12:05 a.m., 11 young people were in custody.

At E. Whittier and S. Pearl streets, all four victims identified their attackers. Nave had no trouble recognizing the tall teen in a white suit and the lone girl in a short white summer dress.

Nave continued to talk to detectives as paramedics took her friend to a hospital.
The aftermath

A severe headache plagued Cody Young for several days after the beating as he nursed cuts and bruises on his face. At school, some students taunted him because he'd "allowed" himself to be beaten.

In January, he received a letter from Cheyenne Cornett. The letter was a condition of Cheyenne's probation.

"It said he's sorry for what he put me through," said Cody, now 14. "It made me feel better. I forgive Cheyenne."

Randolph was chastised by some in her husband's family for not taking better care of Cody. Police told her she'd done the right thing by protecting her cell phone so she could call for help. But next time, she said, she would "die fighting for my family."

She thinks the attack was a gang initiation. For weeks afterward, she was afraid to leave her house. She is still angry -- angry at the attackers and angry that they've made her afraid to go to the park.

The business executive was in Grant Medical Center's emergency room for five hours after the beating as doctors ran him through a gamut of tests. His face was black with bruises, and he had bruises up and down his legs and side. Those faded, but the fear didn't.

"I was very, very, very lucky," he said. "I think it was about a beating, not about money. . . .

"I think it was just bad timing, being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Nave had a few bruises, but most of her injuries were emotional. She saw a counselor and stopped walking in her neighborhood at night. She's thinking about taking a self-defense course.

"I lost some innocence when I saw kids hurting someone and enjoying it," she said. "I've never seen such violence. These kids, they took great pleasure in it."

She thinks two teens started the violence and the rest jumped in. All the kids were involved, she said, except perhaps the smallest one.

"It could have happened anyplace, and does," she said. "It was just so random."
In court

Some parents of the accused tried to fight the charges, saying their children had been treated unfairly. But one by one, the youths pleaded guilty.

"The most important thing to me is that the man has recuperated," said Francine Kelley, whose 13-year-old son, James, was placed on two years of probation. "If he were dead, they could be facing a murder charge."

Mrs. Kelley thinks the violence began because some of the teens saw Cody as an easy target.

"It wasn't a gang, it was just kids who knew each other," she said. "None of their intention was to really do anything to anybody. But it only takes one person to do something. You gotta be strong enough to walk away."

At their court hearings, five of the youths said they didn't participate in the attacks. But they admitted that they didn't do anything to stop the violence, either.

Prosecutors said some of the teens were gang members but that they were playing a game of "knockout" -- knocking someone out with one blow -- when they beat up the businessman.

Francisco Matias wrote in a letter from prison that he wishes he could relive that night, saying he never would have gone to the dance.

Nave also wrote a note, a three-page letter to her attackers asking why.

Why? Why did you do this to us? Were you thinking that we were going to just play like this didn't happen? Do you realize that one kick placed in certain areas of his head could have resulted in his instant death? Do you know what happens if a blow is delivered to the temple or, worse, to the base of the skull?

Do you know what it means to be brain-dead? Did you want to kill him? What would you have done if you had killed him? By attacking us in this brutal, barbaric manner, did you have a sense of power? Were you having as much fun as you sounded like you were having?

She read the letter at one hearing; prosecutors read it at others.

Ten youths pleaded guilty. Four received probation. Six were sentenced to juvenile prison for a year or longer, including Da Varus Cornett, who in February became the 12th person charged.

The case against Clyde Mann is scheduled for trial May 28. Charges were dropped against Carlton Henley-Huffman, 13, who is developmentally disabled.

William Cornett, who was sentenced to a year of probation and 120 hours of community service, said the incident and its aftermath have changed him for the better. He did his community service with Melvin Steward, who runs the Near East Side Community Resource Center and mentors youngsters.

William "was just like a son," Steward said. "And now he's a different young man altogether."

William said he's getting good grades and is sorry for what happened in the park. He said he now sees what happened in a different light. As he put it:

"If you tryin' to show how hard you are, what's that show if you're hitting a 100-year-old man?"

The executive said he doesn't hate the kids who beat him up. He knows they've grown up in poor neighborhoods and that some have had little supervision at home.

"I feel badly for all these kids, but to let them off easily is doing them a disservice," he said. "If they want to, they can straighten up.

"What they were doing was very serious. I'm sorry this happened, and I hope they're sorry."



Parents en Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucketter not-guilty pleas for 11 suspects

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 3:50 AM

By Bruce Cadwallader


The girl was still wearing her dress and high heels. Her date was wearing a suit.

They were returning from the homecoming dance at South High School around 11:30 p.m. Saturday when police arrested them, along with nine other boys, and accused them of participating in robberies and assaults in Schiller Park.

In Franklin County Juvenile Court yesterday, Magistrate William Kirby denied their parents' requests that the kids, ages 11 to 17, be released.

"I don't want my son labeled a robber!" one mother said. Other parents asked the judge to release their children with an ankle monitor.

But Assistant County Prosecutor Scott Saeger won his request that they be detained because of the seriousness of the 88 delinquency charges against them. They are accused of robbing and assaulting four people in the park, including a 68-year-old man who was treated for a head injury at a hospital.

Police say robbers approached the victims, told them they had a gun and took money, jewelry and a cell phone. No gun was found. A police helicopter tracked the suspects, and officers arrested them in two groups away from the park, Saeger said. The victims then identified them, he said.

Al-Nisha Hayes, 15, still was wearing her dress and high heels, her mother, Mary Hayes, told Kirby. Her date, Dontae Matthews, 17, was wearing a suit from the dance. Someone let the girl ride a bike so she didn't have to walk far, she said.

"She was calling me on the cell phone telling me she was on the way home. I don't know what went wrong after that," Hayes said.

The other parents declined interviews.

Kirby granted their request to let their children avoid appearing in court before news cameras. So the parents entered not-guilty pleas for them.

Those charged are Cheyenne Cornett, 11, and William Cornett, 13, both of 641 E. Siebert St.; Francisco Matias, 15, of 184 N. 18th St.; Hayes, 15, of 679 E. Stanley Ave.; Carlton Henley-Huffman, 13, of 569 E. Reinhard Ave.; James Kelley, 12, of 617 E. Kossuth St.; Clyde Mann, 14, and Matthews, 17, both of 649 E. Siebert St.; Antoine Reyes, 16, of 571 E. Kossuth St.; Roosevelt Robertson, 16, of 1746 Bide-A-Wee Park Ave.; and Chanan Travis, 16, of 683 E. Stanley Ave.

The judge refused to let the children go home, even with ankle monitors, because of the crimes' seriousness.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

German Village

Alright there are 11 nigger teenagers(btwn 11-17 in age) playing "Knock Out" have 88 delinquency charges. What the hell and they think they are being charged with a crime is wrong because, apparently it's an acceptable game in the Primate culture~

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