The father of one of three Florida teens charged in a vicious school bus attack said his son is “sorry” for taking part in the July beating that made national headlines.
As the trio headed to court on Tuesday, Julian McKnight said his son Julian, 15, has also suffered in the aftermath of the July 9 attack on a Pinellas County school bus after it left Lealman Intermediate School in the St. Petersburg-area community of Gulfport.
“All I can say is that he had his consequences already, you know?” McKnight said. “This is life. I am sorry what happened to the victim. It's just the way it is. My son ain’t never been no bad person, he just got mixed [up] with bad people, that’s all … He’s sorry.”
The three teens arrested in the attack — Lloyd Khemradj, Julian McKnight and Joshua Reddin — arrived at the Pinellas County courthouse early Tuesday. All three 15-year-olds declined to comment when approached by Fox News. All three were charged with aggravated battery. Reddin is also charged with unarmed robbery.
The juvenile suspects, whom are all first-time offenders, were ordered to return to court on Aug. 27 during their initial court appearance on Tuesday. Prosecutors — who are seeking nine months of court supervision for the suspects, as well as no contact with the victim and random drug testing — want to play the video before a judge prior to any sentence is imposed.
Police said the three teens attacked the unidentified 13-year-old victim after he told officials at their dropout prevention school that one of them had tried to sell him marijuana. The victim, who was struck with a flurry of punches and kicks, suffered a broken arm and two black eyes. He may an have opportunity to testify in two weeks.
The brutal incident made national headlines, in part because video of the attack captured on the bus’ surveillance camera went viral online. It also prompted critics to question why civil rights leaders did not speak up about the assault. The attackers were all African-American and the victim was white, although Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent told Fox News the attack did not appear to be racially motivated.
Former Florida Rep. Allen West, who is African-American, chided Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, noting they condemned Florida in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting yet remained silent on the bus attack.
“Three 15-yr-old black teens beat up a 13-yr-old white kid because he told school officials they tried to sell him drugs,” the former Army colonel wrote on his Facebook page. “Do you hear anything from Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, liberal media, or Hollywood? Cat got your tongues or is it that pathetic hypocrisy revealing itself once again? Y'all just make me sick.”
Jackson later said the two cases were not comparable.
“It’s hard to make a comparison,” Jackson told Breitbart on Saturday. “In one case a man was unarmed, killed by another man. Last year, 135 blacks were killed, black men, unarmed, killed by vigilantes, police, killed by security guards, so whether it’s the case of Oakland, Calif., or the case in New York, it’s just too much of it. Wherever it occurs, it must always be discouraged; there must be a deterrent from it occurring. We must urge people to live in civilized ways.”
Fox News' Phil Keating contributed to this report.