What started with a fight between a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old, one Black and one white, ended with a Massachusetts man under arrest and charged with hate crimes, authorities said.
According to the Holbrook Police Department, at around 1:15 p.m. April 10, officers responded to the Holbrook Middle School playground after a juvenile called for help, saying Shane Belleville, 36, allegedly tried to run over the caller and a group of friends.
Investigators interviewed witnesses and pulled video surveillance footage. They determined “juveniles in the area, ranging in age from 9 to 15 years old, joined the confrontation” and “the incident escalated with racial epithets being used.”
The altercation, police said, became physical but no serious injuries were reported.
One of the juveniles allegedly involved called a relative — Belleville, who is white — and he arrived after the fight had broken up and the two groups separated.
“A group of juveniles was walking down a paved path away from the school when Belleville allegedly drove his red Ford F-350 pickup truck onto the path and confronted the group of all Black children,” police said
Belleville and the group of juveniles began yelling at each other, police said, and a teenage girl spat on Belleville, who “responded by allegedly slapping her in the face.”
Belleville then “got into his pickup truck and reversed toward the group of juveniles, allegedly yelling a racial epithet multiple times,” police claimed.
The juveniles were able to get out of the way, and Belleville left the scene. He was later arrested and is charged with assault and battery, four counts of civil rights violations, four counts of assault with intent to intimidate based on race and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, a motor vehicle.
Belleville was released from jail after posting $750 bail.
Norfolk Police Chief William Smith said he was “extremely dismayed” by what allegedly happened, “from the children being racially divisive toward each other to the abhorrent behavior and alleged hate crimes committed by the suspect in this case."
“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,” he said. “We need to have real conversations with our children and with each other to avoid this type of situation from ever happening here again.”