A massive brawl between two African-American families in Augusta, Georgia, involving up to 50 people left one teenager dead and nine attackers charged with his murder, police say.
At a press conference, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said the death during the melee was “the epitome of a senseless murder.”
According to police, two Augusta families, goaded by taunts on social media, engaged in a massive brawl with weapons, including baseball bats, knives, and fists. Before it was over, 18-year-old Demajhay Bell was lying in a pool of blood, stabbed in the neck.
Cell phone video of the fight shows a pair of teenage girls mouthing off at each other and throwing punches, as a large group of people egg the two on. The video then shows males attacking each other with baseball bats and pipes. Additionally, someone in a Dodge Charger tries to run down some of the fighters several times, even driving through the lawn of one of the homes while chasing down brawlers.
Police say that the stabbing victim didn’t even participate in the fight but was stabbed in the neck the second he exited the house. Sherrif Roundtree even noted that Demajhay knew his attacker and may have been “friends” with him.
Roundtree said the fight began at school when cross words between the two teen girls were exchanged over boyfriends and some “racy photos” posted to social media. The argument then carried over onto social media, with members and friends of both girls joining in. Eventually Quiauna Henley, 35, drove her daughter Quiasha, 18, to the home of Eyvette Byrd so that Quiasha could beat up Byrd’s 15-year-old daughter.
The fight broke out between the two groups but broke up when Demajhay Bell was seen covered in blood.
“That’s when reality started to hit, and that is what’s so sad,” Sheriff Roundtree said scornfully. “It’s not when a driver was trying to hit someone with a car or hit someone with a bat.”
Police said Eyvette Byrd tried to drive the stabbing victim to a hospital but at the first stop sign, the fighting started up again. The stricken teen then tried to drive himself to the hospital until he saw a police cruiser and flagged it down for help.
The teen died from his injuries two days after being hospitalized.
Sheriff Roundtree told the Associated Press that the whole situation was made worse by postings on social media. “The brawl itself was a coordinated effort. The group in the neighborhood knew the other group was coming to fight.”
“With everything they do, (teens think) it has to be elevated so the world will take note,” Roundtree said.
The sheriff said the charges were so aggressive in order to send a message that these sort of situations need to be taken down a notch before it comes to real life brawls.
“That’s why we’re taking an aggressive stance and charging everyone with murder…” Roundtree said. “Anytime you have a mother driving her child to something like this, you have a problem.”