Chatham ‘disturbed' over alleged hate-fueled attempted drowning

Prosecutors say a white teenager held another boy, who is Black, underwater at Goose Pond in Chatham on July 19, allegations that prompted town and school officials to announce their commitment to inclusion

The town offices in Chatham, Massachusetts, seen in a file photo.
NBC10 Boston, File

The town of Chatham, Massachusetts, is reckoning with the alleged attempted murder of a child, who is Black, at a local pond in what authorities say was a racially motivated incident.

Both Chatham's select board and the Monomoy Regional School District released statements Friday saying their communities stand for diversity and inclusion after a grand jury indicted a 14-year-old white boy on attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon charges over the July 19 incident at Goose Pond.



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The board and school district said they'd be working to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

"We are disturbed and saddened to learn of the event that occurred earlier this summer between juveniles," the select board said. "We do not believe that it reflects the true nature of our community, which is diverse and inclusive. We condemn all acts of violence, particularly those directed at children."

The board added it was "here to support" the alleged victim and his family.

A 14-year-old was charged with attempted murder in what investigators say was a racially motivated attempt to drown a Black teen who couldn't swim, allegedly invoking the name of George Floyd.

The Monomoy schools superintendent, in a letter to the community, noted that neither the boy charged with attempted murder and another white boy, whom prosecutors have said laughed and referred to the victim as George Floyd, were enrolled in the district.

"The alleged actions are incredibly concerning and stand in stark contrast to the values we hold as a school district and as a community," Superintendent Scott Carpenter wrote. "Monomoy continually strives to be welcoming, safe, and inclusive for all. We believe in celebrating diversity, promoting empathy, respecting the dignity of every human being, and fostering understanding among all students, staff, and families. Acts of hatred and violence are unacceptable, and we condemn any behavior that seeks to harm or marginalize others based on their race, ethnicity, or any other personal attribute."

He said the district was working with Chatham police and its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Advisory Council to provide support for anyone in the community who needs it. He also encouraged parents to discuss the importance of respect, kindness and empathy with their students.

The town referred questions to the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office.

None of the three children who were involved in the alleged attempted drowning have been identified. have Prosecutors said the indicted teen, another white male juvenile and the victim, a Black male juvenile, met at Goose Pond on the day of the incident. The suspect allegedly threatened the victim with a stone and called him the N-word.

The victim put on a life jacket and told the two other people he could not swim, prosecutors said. All three got in the water together.

"Once in the water the juvenile defendant proceeded to pull on the victim's life jacket and submerged him underwater 4 to 5 times, causing the victim breathing distress," the DA's office wrote in a press release. "The third juvenile laughed at the victim during the attempted drowning and referred to the victim as 'George Floyd.'"

Prosecutors said the defendant then swam under the victim, trying to grab his feet to pull him back underwater. When the victim yelled to someone on the beach for help, a bystander went into the water and helped him to the shore.

Chatham police investigated and the teenager was indicted on charges of attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors said he was found to be dangerous at a hearing Thursday in Barnstable Juvenile Court.

The defendant was being held without bail and was due back in court for a pretrial conference on Sept. 13, 2023.

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