COLUMBUS, Ohio — Police are investigating an incident where a pastor was assaulted in the Hilltop neighborhood after he attempted to break up a fight Thursday.
According to a letter sent to families from West High School Principal Daniel Roberts, the incident happened after school on in the area of Olive and Broad streets near Hague Avenue.
Roberts said several students have been identified as being involved in the fight and assault of the pastor. He adds they are working to identify additional students.
“I am appalled at the action of our students. While this occurred off campus and after the school day, it reflects on our school community,” he said. “Fighting is never a way to resolve conflict, nor is assaulting someone who is trying to stop the negative behavior.”
Roberts asked parents to have conversations with their children about “their choices that affect themselves and the people around them.”
He said students will face disciplinary measures, including the possibility of suspension or expulsion.
“Safety in our community relies upon our students and others making the best decisions for themselves and considering those around them,” Robert said. “With your guidance, our students can build the skills to evaluate their actions and consider how those actions might affect other students, teachers and staff, and themselves.”
April Johnson, a resident in the neighborhood, said described the incident as a "riot out in the middle of the street."
"To stand by and see a pastor be beat up over kids getting out of the school every single day is getting out of control," Johnson said.
Pastor Richard Jones of City of Grace Church says the video is very disheartening to see, but it doesn’t surprise him.
“As pastors looking at something like that, it gives us apprehension to go out into the community,” says Jones.
Jones believes the younger generations are learning the violent tactics online.
"To see the kids get out their phones and a lot of kids were recording that, it just goes to show how social media, and how it's driving our kids and what they're consuming,” Jones said.
Jones said the key to mentoring youth is to build rapport and trust through healthy and safe outlets. His church recently installed new basketball courts to build relationships with the community.
“They can come in, they can use our WiFi, they can play basketball and me and Pastor Mike and other leaders in the church, we're there and we're building rapport with the kids that are just around the corner,” Jones said.
You can read the principal’s full letter below.
Dear West High School Families:
I want to make you aware of an incident that occurred this evening involving several of our high school students and the assault of a community pastor.
This evening, a local pastor was assaulted by a group of young people as he tried to deescalate an altercation in the area of Olive and Broad on Hague Avenue. Several West High School students have been identified as fighting and involved in the alleged assault. I am addressing the issue and discipline measures with the students and families. As the investigation continues, further disciplinary action may result; we are working to identify additional students.
I am appalled at the action of our students. While this occurred off campus and after the school day, it reflects on our school community. Fighting is never a way to resolve conflict, nor is assaulting someone who is trying to stop the negative behavior.
Parents, I need you to have an age-appropriate conversation with your young person at home about their choices that affect themselves and the people around them. Choices have consequences, even at young ages. Students will face disciplinary measures, including the potential of suspension or expulsion. Safety in our community relies upon our students and others making the best decisions for themselves and considering those around them. With your guidance, our students can build the skills to evaluate their actions and consider how those actions might affect other students, teachers and staff, and themselves.
I also want to stress the importance of “See Something, Say Something.” If anyone has information that can assist in the investigation, please call or text our 24-hour anonymous Safer Together hotline at 844-SAFER-OH or call Columbus Police at 614-645-4545. Your help and support are greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions or need some advice on how to approach these types of conversations with your young student, please call our Main Office.
Daniel Roberts Principal