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Father of teen: ‘I can’t watch the video of my son beaten to death’

Updated November 14, 2023 - 7:19 pm

As yet another shocking video believed to show out-of-control teens inflicting a senseless killing in Las Vegas goes viral, Jonathan Lewis Sr. doesn’t want to see it.

“I can’t watch the video of my son beaten to death, no,” he said on Monday.

Jonathan Lewis Jr., his dad said, died from his injuries on Nov. 7 at University Medical Center, six days after the 17-year-old was beaten by a mob near Rancho High School, in broad daylight on Nov. 1.

The Metropolitan Police Department has not yet confirmed that a video purportedly showing the teen mob stomping on and attacking the Rancho High student is in fact video of the Nov. 1 beating, but Lewis Sr. said the video shows his son.

Neither Metro police nor the Clark County coroner’s office has confirmed the teen’s death, and neither agency could provide any update Monday.

“The LVMPD is actively investigating this incident and an update will be provided when available,” Officer Luis Vidal said on Monday. After the incident, police issued a press release that said a juvenile had suffered life-threatening injuries after he was beaten by about 15 people.

Vidal said police were aware of a video that was circulating, but he declined to confirm if he was referring to the video that was going viral on social media on Monday.

Because the viral video showed Black youths involved in the fight, a portion of the online commentary about the incident has veered toward outright racism.

“Yes I think it’s a disgrace to my son’s memory and completely condemn it,” Lewis Sr., who lives in Austin, Texas, said in a text message about the racial comments on social media.

The video, which shows a chaotic scene in which a mob of teens stomps on and attacks an apparent person on the ground — the person is difficult to see amid the mob — is reminiscent of another disturbing video of teens dispensing violence: that of the Aug. 14 alleged hit-and-run killing of retired Southern California police chief Andreas Probst.

In that video, one teen is driving while another is using a phone to film as they approach a cyclist later identified as Probst in northwest Las Vegas. As both laugh, the driver speeds toward Probst and hits him from behind, sending him toppling over the car. Probst was killed. The two teens, Jesus Ayala, 18, and Jzamir Keys, each face a murder charge.

Clark County School District Police Department spokesperson Lt. Bryan Zink described the videos as horrific and shocking, but he couldn’t confirm that the latest viral video of the mob beating was the beating that led to Lewis’ death.

He said school police have been assisting Metro since the incident.

“Parents have got to step up and talk to their kids” about the potential consequences of such behavior, Zink said. “It’s just really sad.”

Lewis’ father, who said he wants the kids involved to be held accountable and imprisoned, claims the teens were also involved in other incidents.

“This is not a one-off, no. We know that there was another incident the Tuesday before that with these exact kids,” Lewis Sr. alleged, adding he couldn’t discuss it because it could affect someone else’s safety.

‘We all must come together as a community’

Meanwhile, the School District on Monday issued a statement in response to questions about Lewis’ death.

“All of CCSD grieves the loss of every student,” the statement reads. “While we can not provide additional information, as this is an active police investigation, please know that District leadership and School Police are working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the District Attorney’s office so those involved are held accountable for their actions. LVMPD is the lead investigative agency.

“CCSD does not tolerate violence or threats to students or their safety,” the statement continued. “We all must come together as a community to address the needs of our students so disagreements are resolved through dialogue rather than violence.”

Meanwhile, a verified GoFundMe page set up by Lewis Sr., who lives in Austin, Texas, to help cover the costs associated with Lewis Jr.’s death, his dad said, with proceeds to be split between his father’s family and his mother’s family, had so far raised over $65,000 on Monday.

The total, well above the initial $25,000 fundraising goal, comes as the GoFundMe also reported details unconfirmed by police about the beating.

According to the GoFundMe, which cites Lewis’ girlfriend, the teen was defending a smaller friend when he was attacked. The friend, a boy, had something stolen by a group of people. The group also threw the boy in a trash can. When Lewis confronted the group, he was beaten by them, the GoFundMe states.

“Jonathan just went to help his friend and a couple of them attacked him and they couldn’t beat him up so he was like, defending himself and so then the whole group just jumped in,” Lewis Sr. said.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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