Seven young males from a Minneapolis basketball Amateur Athletic Union program were arrested and charged with misdemeanors in Wichita, Kan., after assaulting at least three homeless people in downtown Wichita over the weekend, police said.
The young males, ages 12 to 18, were in Wichita to play in the Mid America Youth Basketball championships. They were staying in a downtown hotel and were walking the streets when the assaults occurred on Sunday night. The young males play for Urban Stars Athletics, an arm of Urban Ventures, a nonprofit organization that assists inner-city families in poverty.
The assaults started with “people throwing rocks, bricks and chunks of cement,” said Wichita Police Department Public Information Officer James Espinoza. “A 32-year-old individual suffered injuries to his abdomen and his left arm and left leg. Another 48-year-old individual tried to leave the scene but suffered injuries to his head and cuts and scrapes above his left eye. A third individual on a bike tried to flee but was assaulted with rocks and knocked off his bike.”
None of the victims was hospitalized. Espinoza said he believed not all of those who were charged took part in the assaults.
“I think some of them were more onlookers than anything else,” he said. “I think it became kind of a mob-mentality thing. It sounds like they were bothering homeless people and filming it.”
Wichita police declined to name the individuals, still in custody as of Monday evening. Espinoza indicated that more charges could be filed.
The basketball tournament, which draws teams from around the country ranging from elementary school to high school-age players, began on Thursday and concluded on Sunday.
Urban Ventures, housed in the Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center in south Minneapolis, released a statement Monday afternoon saying staff “have been notified of reports of an alleged altercation … involving a small number of young athletes from the Urban Stars basketball program. While we are disheartened by these reports, we will work closely with the children, their families and law enforcement to learn the facts and resolve this situation.”