BALTIMORE (AP) Transit officials said they are investigating the beating of a white woman by nine black middle school students on a city bus as a possible hate crime.
Sarah Kreager, 26, suffered broken facial bones and other injuries after she was punched, kicked and dragged off the bus Tuesday afternoon. Kreager's companion, Troy Ellis, also was beaten but not as severely.
"We are at this point investigating it as a hate crime," said Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Jawauna Greene.
The students three girls and six boys 14 and 15 years old have been charged with aggravated assault and destruction of property.
The students, who ride the bus to school, have been released into the custody of their parents, Greene said. Their bus privileges were revoked.
MTA Northern District Capt. David Marzola said the students also are accused of menacing an elderly white passenger and assaulting the bus operator, a black man who defended the passenger.
"He probably saved this gentleman's life," Marzola said.
The driver was not identified because he is considered a witness to a crime, the MTA said.
MTA police said evidence has not been found to support claims by the students' parents that Kreager or Ellis provoked the attack by spitting or displaying a knife. Green said no child reported any spitting or a knife at the time reports were taken.
Video from a surveillance camera on the bus is being analyzed as part of the investigation, the MTA said.