Last Wednesday afternoon (July 10), a Gulfport teen received a beating on a school bus as a direct result of his telling authorities at Lealman Intermediate School that three older boys tried to sell him marijuana in the school’s bathroom.
“The kids apparently didn’t have anything on them when the school official spoke to them,” according to Gulfport Detective Sergeant Tom Woodman said, although that portion of the incident remains out of Gulfport’s police jurisdiction – the school board will handle that portion of the investigation.
The victim, a 13-year-old Ward Four resident, reported the alleged offer of drugs to school officials. The three older boys, all 15, boarded the bus with the Gulfport teen and, according to a police statement released by Gulfport Detective Sergeant Tom Woodman, began the beating as the bus neared the boy’s stop.
“As the bus was stopping near the above location, the three suspects began their attack, punching and kicking the victim for nearly a full minute,” Detective Sergeant Woodman wrote in the statement. “As the victim tried to crawl under the seat, the suspects kicked and stomped on him. In all, the suspects threw dozens of punches, often simultaneously, and at least 23 kicks or stomps.”
The bus driver reportedly radioed for assistance “when three fifteen-year-old students ganged up on and repeatedly punched and kicked the smaller, thirteen-year-old victim” according to the statement, and Gulfport police officers arrived at 20th Avenue South and 51st Street, but the suspects had fled the bus using its emergency exit. Police did later identify and arrest all three teens, charging Lloyd Khemradj, Julian McKnight and Joshua Reddin with aggravated battery. Police charged Reddin with robbery as well, as they believe he took the victim’s money after the three 15-year-olds finished beating the victim.
In addition to inflicting other injuries, police say, the threesome fractured the victim’s arm. Police will not release the name of the victim, but can and did legally release the names of the accused; although they are under 18, because police charged them with a felony they can release the boys’ identities.
The school bus driver retired effective Monday July 15, according to Pinellas County School Board District spokesperson Lisa Wolf. When asked why the three boys accused of trying to sell drugs on school property were allowed on a school bus with their accuser, Ms. Wolf said state law and district policy forbade her from discussing disciplinary actions.