SYLACAUGA, AL (WBRC) - Four suspects have been arrested and charged in connection to a beating that left a Sylacauga High School student hospitalized, according to police.
The four males have posted bond and are out of jail facing assault charges.
On Tuesday night, Sylacauga Police Chief Kelley Johnson said the suspects are all former Sylacauga High School students. He said officers do not believe at this time that any current Sylacauga High School students were involved in the assault.
The suspects have been identified as Quartez Lamar Walker, 20, Bobby Ronchea Brown, 19, La Noah Grant Ealy, Jr, 18, and Daveon Shamareya Nix, 20.
Nix is the son of Sylacauga city councilor-elect Tiffany Nix.
"We've gotten everybody we have information on that were involved in the assault, who actually 'assaulted' that witnesses actually know or we determined they were there," Chief Johnson said.
Walker faces a first degree assault charge and his bond is set at $20,000. The remaining suspects are charged with second degree assault and have bonds of $15,000 each.
The police chief said Walker is charged with first-degree assault because evidence suggested he had an object, perhaps a firearm, which was used in the incident.
Police say Brian Ogle, who had been involved in a "minor" dispute on campus, was beaten by several people in a parking lot following the homecoming football game on Friday, Sept. 30.
"It seemed to be a planned incident. They planned it, this kid was singled out for some reason," Johnson said.
Johnson said this assault had to do with an ongoing dispute on Facebook that at times dealt with race. He added that is appears the suspects specifically came to Sylacauga to confront Ogle.
"Brian was assaulted because he made people mad about what he posted on Facebook. Those people came looking for him," Johnson said. "Some took it personally and came here on that Friday to get even with Brian."
Johnson said the dispute did include racial references.
"It got, I would say, in the gutter," Johnson said.
Rev. Hugh Morris, who heads the Talladega County chapter of the NAACP, praised police for conducting a "thoughtful" investigation and not rushing to make an arrest.
"I think the arrests will calm things down," Rev. Morris said.
Since Ogle was beaten, one school incident and many rumors generated largely by people on social media have generated tensions at time in the close-knit community.
"Hopefully, this will put closure to it," Mayor Doug Murphree said. "In ways, this has brought some in the community together. I think it's made the kids especially stop and think."
Mahagonay Rowell, who knows the individuals arrested Tuesday, said she was surprised.
"They come from good homes," Rowell said.
Still, she said, the social media dispute which police said was at the center of the incident should not be an excuse for violence.
"Everybody knows right from wrong," Rowell said.
Johnson says Walker and Brown were arrested at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa with the help of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
He added that Ealy was arrested in Montgomery at Auburn University at Mongtomery. Nix was arrested in Sylacauga.
The mother of Ogle, Brandi Allen, had pushed for police to include hate crimes in the charges, but Chief Johnson said after consulting with the district attorney, it did not meet the statute for a hate crime.
"I feel that our District Attorney should have made the bond higher. I mean, obviously, people get charged with lesser crimes every day and their bonds are way higher than this. I know our [police] chief Kelley Johnson done all he could possibly do," Allen said after learning of the arrests.
Police said a second student who witnessed the initial attack on Friday was assaulted during lunch the following Monday on Oct. 3.
Chief Johnson said it was connected to the Ogle assault and that the victim's parents are taking legal action.
Allen said her son is making some improvements but remains in the hospital. She said she will be in the courtroom until the end of this legal process.
Brown, Ealy, Nix and Walker are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in November.