Attack said to be gang-related; two teens charged, more arrests expected

Attack said to be gang-related; two teens charged, more arrests expected

URBANA — Two Champaign teens remain jailed after being criminally charged Thursday with what authorities say is a gang-related attack on a Savoy teen earlier this month in Champaign that seriously injured him.

Authorities expect more arrests.

On Thursday, Haneef Sayles-Jones, 17, of the 1400 block of Commanche Drive, was charged as an adult in Champaign County Circuit Court with armed robbery, aggravated battery and mob action in connection with the Aug. 17 attack on a 19-year-old man outside a home in the Garden Hills subdivision.

A 15-year-old Champaign youth was charged with the same crimes in juvenile court and was ordered held in the Juvenile Detention Center until a Sept. 17 hearing.

According to the facts laid out by Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber in arraignment court for Judge Richard Klaus, the man had gone to a party in the Garden Hills subdivision on the evening of Aug. 17 with friends.

Weber said several members of the "Norff Bang" youth crime club had apparently targeted the older teen at the party because he had an iPhone that they wanted.

Webber said several were bumping him repeatedly at the party. When he was asked to leave the party because he was intoxicated, some of his friends surrounded him in an attempt to protect him from the gang members.

That apparently angered the gang members and about 20 of them surrounded the Savoy man and his friends, attacking them with bottles and sticks.

The Savoy man was hit over the head with a vodka bottle, knocking him unconscious. Another gang member stole his cellphone and later sold it through a post on Facebook, Weber said.

The Savoy teen was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital where he was hospitalized for swelling to the brain and a cut to his head.

Weber said police interviewed several people who identified Sayles-Jones as a member of the gang who took part in the attack and robbery. There were also numerous Facebook and Twitter posts among gang members that confirmed the attack and the presence of Sayles-Jones that night.

Sayles-Jones ultimately admitted to police that he hit the Savoy teen, Weber said.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson, who is working with Champaign police investigators on this case, said most of the offenders involved are believed to be 15 and 16 and that as many as six more arrests are possible.

Larson said he is waiting for further police reports before deciding if he'll seek a transfer to adult court for the juveniles.

In court it was reported that both Haneef Sayles-Jones and the juvenile charged Thursday are students at the READY school in Champaign, an alternative school for students who have difficulty adjusting to traditional classroom settings.

Klaus set bond for Sayles-Jones at $250,000 and ordered him to be back in court Oct. 8. If convicted of the most serious of the charges — armed robbery — he faces between six and 30 years in prison.

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