Two Connecticut men face a slew of charges after they reportedly ran a group of Black teens off a road and shouted racial slurs at them.
On Monday, June 22, authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Matthew and Michael Lemelin. The brothers, ages 27 and 28 respectively, were arrested that day and charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree reckless endangerment. Matthew Lemelin also was charged with second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, second-degree breach of peace, sixth-degree larceny and third-degree criminal mischief. The incident was investigated as a hate crime.
It took place around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 21 in Manchester, reported NBC Connecticut. Three Black teenagers, ages 13, 14 and 15, told authorities they were riding their bikes down Manchester’s Main St. to a convenience store when two men in a car began to follow them. The teens say they were headed to pick up diapers for a family member of one of the boys when a car tried to run them off the road. One of the boys claimed he was almost struck by the vehicle.
One of the men reportedly got out of the car and shouted racial slurs at the teens. He also chased them and took a bicycle after the teens ran away. The group hid in bushes and called 911 for assistance. No injuries were reported.
Manchester Police were able to identify the suspects based on testimony from the teens and witnesses at the scene. They located the car used in the incident at a residence, but could not contact the home’s occupants.
The brothers are being held on a $150,000 bond and are scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 18.
Christina Torres, mother of one of the victims, demanded justice for her 13-year-old son and his two friends.
“These are children and something needs to be done because they should not have to fear for their life,” Torres told NBC Connecticut. “They should not have to fear for their life and my son was in a bush fearing for his life and we need justice.”
This incident was the realization of lectures she’s given her son about being Black.
“I’ve always told my son that you have to work 10 times harder because of the color of his skin and it pains me to tell him that but it’s the truth,” Torres said. “We need justice and we need to work to ensure incidents like this don’t happen to another group of black boys.”
Samantha Bartone, the fiancée of Michael Lemelin, told NBC Connecticut her partner is “an upstanding citizen and not a racist. We support Black Lives Matter,” she told the station.
Bartone placed all the blame on Matthew Lemelin.
“Michael never would have ever said anything like that,” she said. “Matthew is from Florida. Obviously, they do things differently there.”