The FBI has suspended its investigation into whether a 13-year-old white boy was the victim of a hate crime when two black teenagers allegedly burned him as he walked home from East High School earlier this year.
A fireball burned the victim’s face and singed his hair in the Feb. 28 incident.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted a specially trained investigator to interview the boy to determine whether the crime was partially or fully motivated by his race. If it was, federal authorities would have jurisdiction.
But the victim’s mother refused to allow her son to be interviewed. Because of that, FBI officials notified Kansas City police this week that they no longer were pursuing the case.
Kansas City police already had shut down their investigation into the incident because they had exhausted all their leads.
Detectives had tried several techniques to identify the attackers — thought to be schoolmates of the victim — but all ended unsuccessfully. Police then asked the victim’s mother if they could escort the boy with full police protection to school where he could point out the attackers. The mother declined, police said.
The boy stopped attending East High after the incident, and his parents said they wanted to move.
The suspects apparently followed the victim home Feb. 28. One grabbed him in a bear hug while the other picked up a gas can that was in front of the house and said, “This is what you get,” according to police reports.
The boy struggled over the gas can, which fell, spilling gas. One suspect then lit the gas, which flashed into a fireball, burning the 13-year-old’s nostrils and upper lip. The boy extinguished the flames with his shirt and called 911.
A week later, the boy’s father told The Star his son was recovering well.
The story went viral on the Internet with various blogs attaching a racial motive to the attack, especially after the victim’s mother told a TV station that the suspects called her son, “white boy.” But police said the boy never used that term when they interviewed him.
The Star could not reach the boy’s parents Tuesday.
The two youths in the alleged assault were described as older teens, both with facial hair.
Police said they would re-open their investigation if they received more information. Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (474-8477). A reward is available. Callers remain anonymous.