Detroit, Michigan – Four people have now been arrested in the April 2 beating of a man who accidentally struck a boy who ran into traffic.
Steven Utash, 54, accidentally hit a 10-year-old boy who entered the roadway, CNN reported. Utash immediately stopped and began helping the boy, when several people began beating him.
Authorities have not called the beating a "hate crime," but did say that issues of race are being looked at as a possible motive, CNN reported.
Utash is white, the little boy and those who have been charged in the beating are black. Utash, who recently moved to Clinton Township from Roseville, remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma in a Detroit hospital.
Utash apologized for hitting the boy and pleaded with the men to stop beating him, family members speaking at a Friday afternoon news conference said they were told by Detroit police.
“They beat him for a little while and let him go and then came back,” Utash’s daughter Mandi Emerick said. “I don’t understand the aggression or why they were so angry at him.”
There has been an outpouring of support for Utash. By midday Tuesdy, more than $136,500 had been raised to offset Steve Utash’s accumulating medical bills through an online Go Fund Me campaign.
When the family members of the tree trimmer, who has no health insurance, set up the campaign, they hoped to meet a $50,000
Wayne County Attorney Kym Worthy said Monday Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., one of the two teens arrested Saturday in the mob attack faces charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, the Detroit Free Press reports.
He was arraigned in 36th District Court on Tuesday.
A 16-year-old who was arrested at the same time is in the custody of juvenile authorities and authorities are still determining whether to charge him as an adult, the Free Press says.
Late Monday afternoon, two more people – both men, ages 24 and 30 – were arrested in the crime that has generated outrage across the country. Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody told the Free Press that authorities aren’t ruling out the possibility of charging the suspects under hate-crime statutes.
The assault-with-intent-to-commit murder charge against Wimbush is punishable by up to life in prison. The bodily harm charge is a 10-year felony.
Authorities believe the four who have been arrested so far were part of a larger group that attacked Utash after he stopped to give aid to David Harris, after he accidentally hit him.
“The facts of this case are unbelievably tragic,” police said in a news release, declining to offer further comment because the investigation is “continuing and widening.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Department at (313) 596-2260.
Pastors Address Attack in Sunday Sermons
On Sunday, pastors across the metro mentioned the crime in their sermons, asking congregants to put more money in the collection plate to help Utash’s family meet spiraling medical bills, the Free Press reported.
They also struggled to understand what caused the brutal attack.
“Why are we so angry?” the Rev. Larry Simmons, pastor of the Baber Memorial A.M.E. Church on Detroit’s West Side, asked in his sermon. “What’s wrong with us?”
At Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park, the Rev. David Alexander cited a parable from John 9 in which Jesus talks about why a blind man is blind, and said it’s up to the faith community to engage the “spiritually blind mob of young men who don’t see clearly, who flew into a rage.”
“They’re spiritually blind,” he said.
Alexander said his church will donate $1,000 to help offset Utash’s medical bills, telling congregants “this is an opportunity for us to do God’s work.”
The Rev. Maurice Rudd, whose congregation at Greater Mt. Tabor Church in Detroit is predominantly black, said love is universal.
“There are no boundaries to to love,” he said. “Love crosses all racial barriers, all levels of class. That’s what being a Christian is all about.”Simmons said a developing culture of violence “has infected our people” and is hurting southeast Michigan and he urged congregants to perform random acts of kindness, which could be as simple as smiling at a clerk.
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