CLEVELAND (AP) — Police said they have identified five teenage suspects involved in dumping bodily fluids on a 15-year-old autistic teen who thought he was participating in the "Ice Bucket Challenge."
Evidence against the suspects, who are between the ages of 14 and 17, will be presented to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office early next week to determine whether delinquency charges should be filed, Bay Village police chief Mark Spaetzel said Wednesday.
Spaetzel said detectives have focused on the suspects' social media accounts, such as Instagram, and that investigators are in the process of acquiring the teens' cellphones and obtaining their text messages.
The autistic teen thought he was participating in the challenge benefiting the ALS Association and the fight against Lou Gehrig's disease. He thought he would be getting doused with ice and water but instead someone on a garage roof dumped feces, urine and spit on him, the boy's mother has said. An attorney for the teen and his family said the teen was betrayed by people whom he thought were his friends.
The episode drew widespread attention after the mother of the autistic teen found a video of it on his cellphone and gave media outlets permission to make it available online. Spaetzel said the prank occurred at one of the suspect's homes.
Police and city officials have been besieged by calls from media from all over the world and from those outraged by the vicious prank.
"It's been a little crazy," Spaetzel said.
The case took on another dimension when Drew Carey, the comedian, game show host and Cleveland native, was joined by other celebrities in offering reward money to help police identify suspects. Spaetzel and others have said police already were well on their way to identifying who was involved when the offers came in.
Spaetzel praised Bay Village school officials for turning the case into a "teachable moment." Students held a rally before a football game last week in support of the teen.
Bay Village schools superintendent Clint Keener has said there is little the school district can do to punish the teens because the prank occurred off school property before the start of the school year.