Chicago police describe chronology of alleged hate crime

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago police say they believe the white victim of an alleged hate crime broadcast live on Facebook was tied up in a corner for "about four or five hours."

Image License Photo: Chicago Police

Police on Thursday laid out a chronology of events that led to four black suspects facing hate crime and other charges. They say the victim, an 18-year-old suburban man with mental health problems, knew 18-year-old Jordan Hill, one of the alleged attackers, and willingly spent time with him starting on New Year's Eve.

The victim's parents dropped him off at a McDonald's that night and thought he was spending the night with friends.

Police in Streamwood, Illinois, say the parents reported their son missing Monday, and later the parents received text messages from people who claimed to be holding their son captive.

Chicago police say the victim got into "a play fight," which escalated and included racial slurs and references to the victim's mental capacity. The victim was able to escape after a downstairs neighbor threatened to call police and two of the attackers retaliated by kicking in the neighbor's door.

Police say there was never any doubt the beating of a white man broadcast live on Facebook would be investigated as a hate crime.

They say the four black suspects face hate crime charges because they were shouting racial slurs at the victim and because they referred to his mental capacity.

At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, police also said the victim had been friends with one of the suspects, 18-year-old Jordan Hill of suburban Chicago. They say on New Year's Eve, Hill and the victim met up at a suburban McDonald's to begin what both the victim and his parents believed was going to be a sleepover.

Police say Hill drove the victim around in a stolen van for a couple days. They ended up at a home in Chicago, where police say Hill and the three other suspects taunted the victim and beat him.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the beating of a mentally disabled man that was broadcast live on Facebook demonstrates "a level of depravity that is an outrage to a lot of Americans."

Earnest says he has not yet spoken to President Barack Obama about the incident in the president's hometown of Chicago but says he's confident Obama "would be angered by the images that are depicted on that video."

Cook County prosecutors have filed hate crime and aggravated kidnapping and battery charges against four black suspects in the incident that police say went on for as many as 48 hours.

Cook County prosecutors on Thursday announced charges against three 18-year-olds - Jordan Hill of Carpentersville, Brittany Covington of Chicago and Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago - and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington of Chicago.

Prosecutors say the four are also charged with aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Three have also been charged with residential burglary.

The charges stem from an incident that went on for as many as 48 hours. Police have said the victim has "mental health challenges."

The grandmother of a young woman associated with a live video on Facebook of a beating says her granddaughter "had her ups and downs," but is "a good person."

Priscilla Covington of Chicago says she raised the young woman "since she was a baby." She says her granddaughter no longer lives at the family home but still lives in Chicago.

The grandmother says the video doesn't reflect the young woman she raised.

She says she's worried because her family, including the woman's younger sisters, have been threatened since the video was posted online.

She says she saw and talked to her granddaughter about four days ago, and "she was OK."

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