The Duluth Police Department has closed an investigation into a recent assault captured on video outside East High School and widely shared on social media.
The video appears to show a male student tackling another student, repeatedly punching him in the head, violently stomping on him and delivering several kicks to his face. A second video appears to show the assailant bragging about the incident, vaguely referencing a theft and other issues that may have precipitated the assault.
“We are working closely with the Duluth Police Department and are taking appropriate actions,” Superintendent Bill Gronseth said in a statement to the News Tribune. “Due to data privacy we are not able to share specific information.”
The police department issued its own four-sentence statement confirming that the incident took place near East on Oct. 15.
“The DPD was notified by the school district and officers responded immediately,” police said. “The case was investigated and is now closed. Due to data privacy laws the disposition cannot be shared.”
In declining to release additional information about the incident and the students involved, police spokeswoman Ingrid Hornibrook cited the state statute that keeps most police reports involving juveniles private.
The Minnesota Data Practices Act makes public the “age and sex of any juvenile person cited, arrested, incarcerated or otherwise substantially deprived of liberty.” The police department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the News Tribune seeking to confirm that no charges were filed.
The videos apparently were initially shared on Snapchat but reposted by others on Facebook. One public reposting had in excess of 37,000 views and 550 shares as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The uproar prompted East principal Danette Seboe to contact parents by both email and phone Tuesday afternoon. Her message read:
“There’s a video circulating on social media of an assault that took place on a street near Duluth East High School. What it shows is ugly and unacceptable.
“Our school staff were made aware of the assault as it was happening and responded to the scene quickly. We notified the Duluth Police Department through our school resource officer within minutes.
“While we cannot share specific details, we are contacting you to share the process the school and district follow related to instances like these that impact student safety. Aggressors are suspended for at least five days pending an investigation by the district. The initial suspension may be extended if the investigation is not complete in that first five days. Following the investigation district administration, in consultation with attorneys, make recommendations for additional action which could include expulsion. The police department conducts its own investigation, which may result in criminal charges.
“We want you to know that we respond to these situations quickly and there are processes in place to protect students in our schools.”