2 arrested in a fight that badly injured boy

Published: Friday, May 5 2006 12:21 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Provo police have arrested two men in connection with a gang fight Wednesday night that severely injured a teenager.

Police said a 17-year-old boy was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with broken bones in his face after being attacked by several alleged gang members.

The attack, which happened near Riverside Park in Provo at 1200 W. 650 North, started about 10 p.m. when members of gangs met in the park, according to police.

One of the groups started to run away, but when one man with that group couldn't get away in time, a fight ensued, said Provo Police Capt. Rick Healey.

The victim's friends and neighbors called police, who found a shovel, bat and hammer at the scene.

Police don't know for sure if the weapons were used in the attack.

The number of attackers is unknown but estimated to be at least 10.

Some of the teenagers police believe were involved in the attack had recently been suspended from Independence High School, said Greg Hudnall, director of student services for Provo School District. Independence is the district's alternative school.

A 20-year-old man was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail Thursday afternoon. One juvenile was also taken into custody Thursday.

Healey said they are continuing their investigation by interviewing as many people as they can.

Gang problems are augmented by the "tagging," or graffiti, around town, Healey said.

"They'll put their logo up and someone will come along and cross it out and put their own up," Healey said. "That creates a real animosity toward each other, then they're out there trying to cross each other out."

Because the incident was believed to be gang-related, school resource officers from Provo School District responded to the scene as well, Healey said.

"We have seen more tagging in the last couple years than we've ever seen before," said Hudnall. "Tagging is kind of the gateway. Like smoking is the gateway to drugs, tagging is the gateway to getting involved in gangs."

The district has a gang specialist who works with students and families to address issues before they become large problems.

"We really try to hit (tagging) head on to prevent it from escalating," Hudnall said.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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