ST. LOUIS • Five boys and a girl all ages 13 or 14 were arrested Friday in an apparently random attack last week that left a man with a broken jaw, black eye and stitches on his face.
Just after the attack, Mayor Francis Slay and his police bodyguard drove up and assisted the victim, Matt Quain, 51.
Slay believes the attackers are guilty of attempted murder and should be charged as adults.
"These juveniles are more and more acting like adults and there's got to be processes in place to make sure that they understand the gravity of their offense, and if they do something they will be punished in a way that they're going to remember," Slay said.
The arrested teens have been turned over to juvenile authorities, St. Louis police said.
The decision on whether to charge the teens as adults rests with Judge Jimmy Edwards.
Quain and a neighbor, Jon Kelly, 48, said they were walking home about 11:40 p.m. Oct. 21 after buying beer on South Grand Boulevard when the attackers surprised them.
Kelly said only one teen from a group of more than a dozen boys and girls punched Quain in the face.
Kelly said the teens did not approach him. They crossed Grand and casually walked east on McKean Avenue.
The attacker and the others walked away as Slay and his bodyguard, Sgt. Blaise Peluso, pulled over to help.
Peluso was driving Slay home from a concert at the Fox Theatre when he saw Quain lying face down, bloodied and unconscious by the curb near the St. Louis Library's Carpenter Branch.
Police say there have been seven similar attacks in the past 15 months, in the Tower Grove South and East and Shaw neighborhoods. There also were waves of such attacks, sometimes called the "knockout game," in 2006 in Carr Square and in 2007 in Dutchtown.
Some of the suspects have been linked to Roosevelt High School. In an interview with a Post-Dispatch reporter, several students said Thursday that they engage in the game because they are bored.
Slay said that is not an excuse.
"To say, 'Oh we have nothing to do so we're going to punch someone else out,' or to blame it on society or the system … is absolutely ridiculous," Slay said. "You can provide all the recreational programs and quality educational programs every day, but ultimately each and every individual has a personal responsibility to respect each other and saying they're bored is not an excuse, it's a cop out and that's a problem in and of itself. The entire community ought to be angry about this."
Slay said he hopes the community rallies to Quain's cause and that the arrests send a message.