The victim’s mother, Cassandra Merlin, shared photos of her 8-year-old son’s injuries to Facebook. In the images the little boy is seen with severe rope burn and cuts on his neck.
“So my son is being flown to Dartmouth after a 14-year-old kid decided to hang him from a tree,” she wrote in the now-deleted post, according to NH1. “I don’t care if this was a so called accident or not. My son almost died.”
Cassandra Merlin is enraged that a group of teenage boys used a rope to hang her 8-year-old son from a tree
In a follow-up post on Thursday, Merlin said her son could no longer go outside and play because of what happened and indicated that she thinks the attack was racially motivated.
“It truly saddens me that even in a city so small, racism exists. My son used to love being able to go to the park with his older sister and shoot some hoops! Now, he’s not even allowed to go outside without me,” she wrote. “It sad (sic) that in a city we considered to be safe, we aren’t safe at all.”
He also wouldn’t say whether authorities are looking at the case a hate crime. Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase would not comment on the specifics of the case, only that they were still investigating an incident that happened last Monday, involving several juveniles: “All case records, as defined in RSA 170-G:8-a, relative to delinquency, shall be confidential,” He said.
Chief Chase did confirm the youngest person involved was 8-years-old and the oldest were teenagers. “It remains under investigation,” Chase said.
While refusing to comment on rumors that the incident was racially motivated, Chase said his department takes seriously and investigates any crimes that are perceived to be motivated out of racism or other forms of bigotry.
Facebook post by the victim’s uncle and his brother
The victim’s grandmother, Lorrie Slattery, told the Valley News that before her grandson was hanged from the tree the other kids he was with started calling him racial slurs because he’s biracial.
She said one of the teen’s then stepped on top of a picnic table and grabbed a nearby rope that had been used for a tire swing. According to Slattery, the teen put the rope around his neck and then told her grandson to try it.
“One boy said to [my grandson], ‘Let’s do this,’ and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.”
Lori Slattery said police told her there wasn’t anything they could do because one or more of the teenagers claimed the incident was an accident. That explanation didn’t fit the facts she has ascertained.
“If it was an accident, that boy or anybody there wouldn’t have left him,” Slattery said. “I believe it was intentional.”