Gurnee IL. Sept 27 2017 A family of three was hospitalized Saturday after being attacked by an adult and eight teens at Six Flags Great America after members of the larger group apparently cut in line and were using foul language when the family exchanged words with them, according to Gurnee police.
Gurnee police Officer Daniel Ruth, the incident’s lead investigator, said the family members — a 51-year-old man, 50-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy — all were transported to an area hospital by a Gurnee Fire Department ambulance with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police arrested Gregory Battle, 18, of Waukegan, who was being held on $20,000 bail on charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, mob action and aggravated battery in a public place, Ruth said.
The other eight juveniles, ranging in age from 15 to 17, were named in juvenile petitions for mob action, a class 4 felony, and taken to the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Complex Center in Vernon Hills.
Seven of the suspects were from Waukegan and one was from Beach Park. Another juvenile additionally was charged with obstruction of justice for giving a false name, Ruth said.
Police are asking for any more witnesses to contact the department.
“We urge anyone with video information to come forward,” Ruth said Tuesday. Ruth added that while the park has cameras throughout, the footage they’ve seen has been inconclusive.
“We believe there were more witnesses that did not come forward, and any video would be useful to the investigation,” Ruth said. “We urge anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward and make a statement.”
The incident was called in to police at 8:50 p.m. during the amusement park’s Fright Fest in the Southwest Territory area, home of rides Raging Bull, Viper and Giant Drop.
The initial call was for a fight in progress involving approximately 10 people, Ruth said. Another 911 call reported that 10 people were surrounding and fighting one person.
According to Ruth, when police arrived, they detained nine suspects who fit the description provided by park security personnel, which included people with different hairstyles and different styles of clothing. They were not in costume.
Security and police both made contact with the suspects just south of Grand Avenue in the park’s entryway that is landscaped with hills and trees, Six Flags Avenue, and detained them, Ruth said. He added that witnesses told police there was an exchange of words over one of the victim’s thoughts on the group’s inappropriate behavior, which included foul language and a line issue for a ride.
“They were talking initially before a battery occurred to the child,” Ruth said. He added that the father went to his son’s aid and started to pull the offender off the boy when the father was knocked to the ground, and the group surrounded him and hit him with “punches and kicks.”
At that point, the wife tried to help her husband and son, and she also was attacked. It did not appear that anyone immediately came to their aid, “but numerous people reached out to Six Flags employees as well as calling 911,” to get them help, Ruth said.
Tess Claussen, communications manager at Great America, said in a statement, “The safety of our guests and team members is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for reckless behavior. The perpetrators were taken into custody by local authorities.”
Claussen added, “This was an isolated incident and Gurnee police along with our own security personnel responded promptly.”
Gurnee Deputy Chief Brian Smith said the department not only has regular patrols through the park, but the park also hires “a significant number” of Gurnee officers to assist Great America’s private security personnel.
“And there is a standard increase during each and every day during fright Fest every year,” he said, adding the attack was not a common occurrence.
“We don’t typically see incidents like this,” Smith said. “This would be very unusual for Six Flags.”
Information concerning the family was not being released at their request as they try to recover from the incident, Smith said..
Lake County News-Sun