SANTA ROSA, Calif. – A Northern California mother suspected of attacking a 12-year-old boy she said was bullying her daughter at school may have targeted the wrong child, a sheriff's official said Monday.
Investigators have not found evidence linking the boy to the bullying allegations, Sonoma County sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said. He said they are looking into whether another child may have harassed the girl.
"We are unable to determine if any bullying ever occurred," Brown said. "We don't know if this kid bullied this girl at all. It looks like he did not. We can't find anybody to say that he did."
The girl's mom, Delia Garcia-Bratcher, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of inflicting injury on a child after sheriff's deputies say she came to Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa on Friday and grabbed the boy by the throat. She asked her son, who also attends the school, to point out who was bullying her daughter, the sheriff's office said.
Attempts to reach Garcia-Bratcher were unsuccessful Monday as telephone numbers listed for her were disconnected. It is not clear whether she has retained a lawyer, Brown said.
While several students saw the incident, no adults witnessed what happened, Brown said. The students later told a deputy that Garcia-Bratcher threatened the boy about bullying her daughter. The school staff took photos of red marks on the boy's neck, Brown said.
On Saturday, Garcia-Bratcher came into the sheriff's office to give a statement and was briefly taken into custody afterward, Brown said. She was later released on $30,000 bail.
"The mother said she didn't do it," Brown said. "Even if some bullying did occur, that doesn't change the crime that the mother allegedly committed."
A Sonoma County district attorney's spokeswoman said Monday that her office was still awaiting the sheriff's report before deciding on filing any criminal charges.
Meanwhile, school officials also were investigating whether the girl was bullied. Officials from the Piner-Olivet Union School District gave parents a flier Monday about the incident and reminded them about the school's visitation policy.
"It's terrible when this kind of thing happens. We take it very seriously," Superintendent Jennie Snyder said. "Incidents like these are very rare, and when they do happen, we respond."