On Wednesday June 19th, an American 13-year-old middle school student in the city of Passaic, New Jersey, USA; allegedly attacked a classmate and his mother as they walked home after school, said the family’s lawyer on Monday June 24th.
“Veronica Ruiz, a Passaic NJ resident, originally from Puebla, México, who ended up in the hospital with a fractured face and a concussion, was pushing her 1-year-old daughter in a stroller when the attacker approached”, said Daniel Santiago, her attorney.
The woman was allegedly struck in the face when she tried to intervene after the teen confronted her son, Mayor Hector Lora said.
“She went down hard,” Lora said, adding that the woman, who does not have insurance, was in the hospital for two days. Lora said aggravated assault charges have been filed against the attacker.
“The attack”, Santiago said, “was in retaliation for her son telling Passaic School 20 officials last Tuesday June 25th, that he was being bullied”.
“The woman’s son allegedly told school officials at the gifted and talented school that he was being bullied by the attacker because his parents are Mexican”, Santiago said. The “bully” allegedly told the classmate that “Mexicans should go back to the other side of the wall,” according to the attorney.
The following day the boy’s mother picked him up from school and as they were walking home on Lexington Avenue, they were attacked, said Lora.
“As they turned the corner (onto Lexington) the teen assaulted the boy and mother,” Santiago added. “This is absolutely a hate crime.”
“The school failed. They told me that my son would be safe,” the father Alfonso Vasquez said.
“As both a father and a husband I am outraged,” Lora said. “This incident is being taken extremely seriously.”
Lora said he has met with the family, the chief of police, local officials, school administrators and school board members “to make sure there is accountability.”
Passaic has resources to help the family cope with medical bills, Lora said and added that if the teen attacker is found guilty, he and his family may be responsible for restitution for medical expenses.
Santiago said the couple filled out permanent residency paperwork and are in the United States legally with work visas.
The incident, and anything that lead up to it, remains under investigation, Lora said.
“However one thing is very clear — what occurred to this mother is unacceptable and whatever we need to do as a city, as a community to do better by our families and our children, we will do,” mayor Lora concluded.