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Teens in viral assault video of special needs man arrested

Neighbors are fundraising for victim of attack by teens who were reportedly also involved in brick attack on high school principal.
Viral video of the incident, since deleted from Facebook, shows the victim, left, react after being punched while one of his tormentors laughs. (Provided)

The Philadelphia Police Department has identified four teenagers caught on viral video participating in an assault on a man with special needs in Germantown, two of whom were arrested for their role in last week's brick assault of the principal of Fitler Middle School.

According to a statement released Wednesday, police have arrested two 15-year-old males — their identities have not been released because they are juveniles — for allegedly attacking the principal of Filter Middle School at West Seymour and Knox streets in Germantown in the face with a thrown object, which teachers union officials said was a brick.

The teens were identified, police said, after a Facebook video of the assault on a 39-year-old man with special needs was found circulating social media on June 5. In the footage, juvenile males can be seen punching the man at least twice in the face.

Police initially believed the video was filmed in the area of Wayne and Chelten avenues, not far from Filter Middle School.

After an investigation, law enforcement officials said that on Tuesday, police discovered the boys that they believed were the four juveniles seen assaulting the male victim in the video and learned that the incident allegedly occurred on Memorial Day around 3 p.m., when the four boys were walking along the 100 block of Chelten Avenue.

Police said after encountering the victim, they first "began conversing with him" when suddenly, “for no apparent reason,” one of the juveniles, a 12-year-old boy, sucker-punched the victim from behind. Then a 15-year-old in the group followed up with a second punch as the victim attempted to walk away. Police said a 15-year-old male filmed the assault and the fourth juvenile, a 13-year-old male, could be seen laughing about the assault on the video.

The victim suffered no injuries in the assault, police said. However, law enforcement officials later connected the two teens identified in this incident with the incident at Fitler.

Police said that in that incident, on Wednesday, May 31, at about 2:45 p.m., after several fights had broken out between students at the school, the 39-year-old principal was attempting to break up a fight between students, when he was punched by a student from Mastery Charter School, located nearby on the 5700 block of Wayne Avenue.

After that time, law enforcement officials said the principal began to record video of the altercation, when he was struck in the face by an object thrown by a student. Police said the principal needed to get stiches for his left eye at Abington Hospital, and he also sustained a black eye and other injuries to his head and face, which were not life threatening.

Those two 15-year-olds are charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault and reckless endangerment for the Fitler incident. 

As of Thursday morning, police are still investigating to determine if any of the four boys will face charges as a result of the videotaped attack on the special-needs man.