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Story by Larry Fitzpatrick - The Oregon Herald
Published on Thursday December 16, 2010 - 9:34 AM
 
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A pregnant teenage girl feared for her life and her baby after she and her boyfriend were attacked by a group of four girls and a woman on a Metro bus last month, and it was all captured on the bus' security camera.

The pregnant girl and her boyfriend got on the bus at 3rd and Madison at about 6:40pm on November 19th, and sat down in the back of the bus.

The couple was sharing a pair of headphones, listening to an mp3 player, when a group of teens—two 16-year-olds, a 15-year-old, 17-year-old, and 19-year-old—got on the bus near Westlake.

One of the 16-year-olds approached the man in the back of the bus and accused him of taking her cellphone in a previous incident.

"Me and my boyfriend got on the bus and we were listening to our Zune -- he had a headphone; I had a headphone -- and then the girls came on," said Jessica, who is due in June and was returning home after doctor checkup. "I didn't know them so I wasn't expecting anything and one of them started saying something to my boyfriend."

Surveillance video shows just 34 seconds after the girls boarded, one of the girls grabbed the Zune. When Jessica and her boyfriend resisted, the pair was attacked by the five girls, police said.

"I turned around and one of the girls hit me from the behind," Jessica said. "I asked 'hey, what are you doing?' and then three of the other girls started hitting me."

Jessica turned around again and was struck in the eye and began bleeding profusely. She told her attackers twice that she was pregnant and said she didn't want to fight them. One of the accused offered, "well, nobody hit her in the stomach."

Jessica

"My main concern was for my baby," Jessica said. "None of them hit me in the stomach, but one kicked me in the back and I just didn't want anything to happen."

Investigators said as that during the attack, three of the girls stole items from the boyfriend's pockets.

"They just started going through our pockets, and I was just like, 'Hey, what are you doing, get out of my pockets.' " Jessica said. She says they took the Zune and cigarettes from the boyfriend's pocket.

The attack continued until the bus pulled over and the victims were able to escape, police said.

Jessica was taken to Harborview Medical Center to receive six stitches for eye. Her boyfriend was just bruised. She says she had never met any of the five attackers before, but her boyfriend had met one of the five at a party last summer and that woman had claimed he stole her cell phone, a charge he denies.

Metro Police found three of the attackers shortly after the incident. The other two were arrested several days later by Seattle Police officers.

"I think this assault kinda takes your breath away because you've got five girls... and they're assaulting these two who aren't even fighting back," said Sgt. John Urquhart with the King County Sheriff's Department. "To me, that's pretty egregious."

The surveillance camera on board provided crucial evidence to crack the case.

"I don't see how people could watch this and not be outraged," Urquhart said. "Clearly (the girls) think this is OK, and they have no compunction doing this in front of a bus load of people in a bus that's clearly marked as a video coach... I'm lost. I just don't get the mindset going on there. About 400 Metro buses have cameras with plans for another 250 buses to be equipped in the next few years."

The 19-year-old was charged with assault and has since bailed out of jail. The other four girls were charged with second degree robbery. Three remain in custody while the fourth is on electronic home monitoring, police said.

All five girls have prior arrests. "They're all very familiar with the criminal justice system," Urquhart said.

Jessica says she's glad they're now off the streets.

"If they're going to be acting like that, you can't be out in public," she said. "It's just not the way to act, especially toward a pregnant female."

In the video of the incident, the suspects "are seen laughing during the course of the assaults and even joke about how they did not get any money from the victims," police records say.

One of the teens was caught on tape "complaining that she broke her nail" assaulting the victims.

While prosecutors have filed robbery cases against the four juveniles, the 19-year-old suspect has not yet been charged, and she was released from the King County Jail on December 11th.