Melee breaks out among young people

News-DemocratApril 19, 2011 

A melee broke out Tuesday evening in a neighborhood just west of downtown Belleville.

Shylanda Jones said a group of about 30 teenagers and young adults from First Street came looking for her two 16-year-old twin daughters -- Andria and Ambria -- about 6 p.m. outside their home in the 600 block of West Lincoln Street.

A couple of females in the group attacked her daughters, Jones said.

"We tried breaking the children up, but they started attacking me," Jones said, adding that one girl punched her in the lip.

The seeds of the fight had started on the school bus home from Belleville West High School, Jones said. Some students wanted her daughters to get off at First Street to fight, but they refused.

Those girls were joined by several males, whom Jones estimated were between 16 and 20 years old. She had photos of the group milling in the street near her home.

"This is crazy," Jones said. "They were grown men."

Jones wasn't sure why the First Street youths, who were calling themselves the "First Street Goons," were angry at her daughters. She reported problems between her daughters and them in the past to school administrators, but no action had been taken, she said.

"When nothing gets done at school, this is what happens at home," Jones said.

Several Belleville police officers went to the scene. Capt. Don Sax said that because most of the individuals involved were juveniles, no one was arrested or charged.

West Lincoln Street resident Ed Walker was playing with his children in his backyard when he heard a commotion near the front of his house. He found one of Jones' daughters fighting another girl in the middle of the street

"(Jones' daughter) was beating the hell out of her," Walker said. "When they picked her up, she couldn't stand up."

He pointed to a pile of hair in the street that belonged to the girl who had been beaten.

Jones said her daughters fought back, but the one in the fight suffered a head injury when she was pushed to the ground.

This is the third time this year that a large group of youths have come parading down their street starting trouble, Walker and his wife, Gail, said.

"Every night it's warm, this happens," Gail Walker said.

The Walkers plan to move out of the neighborhood. Gail lamented that nothing happens after police come to the scene.

"I want to know what they are going to do to protect these children in the backyard," Gail Walker said. "They want to know why people are moving out of Belleville -- this is why."

Police can only take reports in incidents involving juvenile suspects and release them to a responsible adult, Sax said. On the other hand, adult suspects are often arrested the same day as the incident and are before a judge the following day.

"It's frustrating for us too, because we are very limited in what we can do," Sax said.

Contact reporter Kevin Bersett at kbersett@bnd.com or 239-2535.

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