The family of an 8-year-old boy in New Hampshire says he had to be flown to the hospital in August after a teen hung him from a tree with a rope around his neck.
The boy’s grandmother, Lorrie Slattery, told the Valley News her grandson was playing with a group of teenagers in his Claremont neighborhood on Aug. 28 when the teens he was with began calling him racial epithets and throwing rocks and sticks at his legs.
Some or all of the teens then stepped up on a picnic table, Slattery told the newspaper.
“The (teenagers) said, ‘Look at this,’ supposedly putting the rope around their necks,” she said. “One boy said to (her grandson), ‘Let’s do this,’ and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.”
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase told Boston.com Monday the department is investigating the incident as a hate crime, but would not confirm any of the allegations.
“It’s being investigated as a crime and we are investigating the bias relationship in it,” he said.
A request for comment from the Sullivan County Attorney’s office was not immediately returned.
Chase said because only juveniles were present during the incident, he could not speak in more detail about what allegedly occurred. He said the young people involved were 8 to 14 years old.
“I’ve got to basically be mum on the specific facts because everything we know about the incident is coming from the juveniles,” he said.
The chief said the department continues to take the incident “seriously.”
According to the Valley News, it was unclear from Slattery’s account if the boy allowed the rope to be put on his neck or if it was forced on him. She told the newspaper that since no adults witnessed the incident, she and others have been forced to piece the events together based on accounts from other children who were present, including the boy’s 11-year-old sister.
The boy’s mother alleged in a Facebook post that her son had to flown to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center afterward. The post has since been deleted.
“I don’t care if this was a so called accident or not,” she wrote.
The boy’s uncle also posted an image of the boy’s injuries, later writing in another post that his first thought was that “somebody did something to him because he’s biracial.”
Slattery told the Valley News her grandson did not suffer any internal injuries.
She told the newspaper that her grandson told an interviewer at the hospital that he swung by his neck three times before he was able to free himself, and that no one tried to help him.
“If it was an accident, that boy or anybody there wouldn’t have left him,” Slattery told the Valley News. “I believe it was intentional.”