Teens accused in Temple attacks charged as adults


16-year-old Najee Bilaal, 15-year-old Zaria Estes, and 15-year-old Kanesha Gainey have been charged with Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, Possession of an Instrument of a Crime, Terroristic Threats, Simple Assault and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.

The girls have all been arraigned. Bail for Gainey was set at $75,000, and bail for Estes and Bilaal was set at $100,000 each.

The arrests were made on Tuesday - just one day after surveillance video of the alleged suspects was released to the public. Police say the video was critical in capturing the juveniles - some of which, after seeing the video on TV, surrendered to police.

The charges stem from several assaults near Temple's North Philadelphia campus between 5:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on March 21, 2014.

In the first instance a couple was walking west along Norris Street approaching 17th Street when they say they were confronted by a group of kids.

Authorities released video of the group of children, ranging in age from 8 to 14, who they say began to taunt the couple - especially the girl.

The children allegedly began to push the Temple student and pulled on her hair.

"That's when she turned around and pushed them back, told them to stop," explains Temple University Acting Executive Director Charles Leone. "

As the victim resisted, there was a violent turn.

Philadelphia Police Lieutenant John Stanford says, "One of the teens, they struck the female in the face with a brick, causing significant damage to this young lady's face."

The victim suffered dislocated teeth as a result of the attack.

Shortly thereafter two other female Temple students were attacked - one along the 1700 block of Willington Street and another on the 1700 block of Cecil B Moore. In both instances the group allegedly punched the victim before fleeing.

Police say the group then boarded a bus and fled the area.

The motive remains unclear. Police say robbery is possible, but that the attacks appear to have been random.

The off campus area where the incidents occurred is dotted with surveillance cameras.

Temple students are repeatedly told to be aware of their surroundings and to look for potential threats to their safety. But young children are not routinely on their radar screen.

"When I heard how old they were I was in complete shock. It was not even something I would even thought would happen," said Temple student Karly O'Toole.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS (8477), text a tip to PPD TIP (773847) or through PhillyPolice.com.

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