DETROIT (WWJ) – Four people are in police custody including a Detroit teen who has been charged in the mob beating of a Macomb County man who stopped to check on a child he hit with his pickup truck.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged 17-year-old Bruce Edward Wimbush, Jr., of Detroit as an adult in connection with the assault on 54-year-old Steven Utash of Clinton Township.
“The facts of this case are unbelievably tragic. We have charged this defendant with a capital offense. I will not comment further because this investigation is continuing and widening,” Worthy said, in a statement.
A 16-year-old male is also in custody in connection with case, prosecutors say. That teen will go before a juvenile referee, and it could take up to five days to determine whether or not he will be charged as an adult in the case. He’s been held in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center.
Both young suspects were arrested Saturday morning at their homes “in the general vicinity” of the incident.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said, Monday afternoon, that a third person was taken into custody in connection with the case and a fourth person was taken into custody Monday evening.
There were no details immediately available about the third and fourth suspects.
Wimbush was scheduled to be arraigned in 36th District Court on Tuesday before Judge Millicent Sherman on charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Police said Wimbush was supposed to be arraigned Tuesday but the court appearance was postponed after the teen was temporarily released over a problem with a warrant.
“I’m going down there, just to see the kid; to actually be in the courtroom to know what they’re trying him for,” Utash’s son Joe told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Kathryn Larson. “It’s just the first part of a long going closure we kinda need right now.”
According to police, Utash was driving home from his job as a tree trimmer last Wednesday when he struck an 11-year-old boy who’d stepped out into the roadway near Morang and Balfour.
When Utash stopped to check on the child, he was attacked and severely beaten by a violent mob of 10 to 12 people.
“You hit my nephew, you’re going to die,” one man said, according a witness.
Deborah Hughes, a local nurse, said dozens of people stood around and watched as Utash was punched, kicked, and stomped on repeatedly. She’s being hailed as a hero for stepping in to stop the attack.
Police said Utash, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, was not at fault in the accident. The boy who was hit was treated for a broken leg.
Utash — who works a tree trimmer — has no medical insurance, and his family has set up an online fundraiser to help pay for medical bills. More than $100,000 has been raised.
Many have speculated that the attack was a hate crime because Utash is white, and the mob was described as all black.
Investigators have declined to say if they believe the attack was racially motivated, but Craig said hate crime charges have not been ruled out.
What this case is not about, Craig said, is vigilantism.
“Not at all,” he told reporters Monday. “What we believe, based on our investigation, is that this irrational, unfortunate act was emotional, and these were violent perpetrators engaging in a crime that was senseless.”
Police will continue to search for additional suspects.
“I certainly applaud the men and women of the police department who have really displayed a sense of urgency in making a great effort in bringing some closure to this matter,” Craig said.
Anyone who witnessed the attack, can identify the assailants, or who has any information about this case is urged to call Detroit police at 313-596-1616. Tips can be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.