MANSFIELD, Ohio - The owner of a local child day care and a former employee face charges after a video posted to the social media app Snap Chat caught the attention of investigators with Mansfield police and children services.
Police said they were tipped about the video, which was recorded on June 4, showing two children beating up on a 4-year-old boy.
"We were able to find out it was one of the workers at the day care that videotaped it and sent it to a few people, and that’s how we got involved," Lt. Robert Skropits said.
The stepmother of Cashmere Smith, the alleged victim in the video, said she and the boy's father were outraged when they saw it.
"My son Cashmere (was) sitting in a timeout chair coloring and then you hear somebody say 'Get him.’ And a bigger boy, a 6-year-old boy, pounces on my son, yanks him out of the chair and starts wailing on him. And a little girl comes over and joins in on the fight," Ruby Fultz said.
Police said what also concerned them about the video is what they hear the employee say as she was recording it.
"You can hear the employee saying on the video, while the two kids are beating up the other kid that, quote, ‘They gang bang on the white kid,’" Skropits said.
Police have charged the owner of the day care center, Argene Washington, 59 and the employee, Shakari Hawkins, 21, with misdemeanor endangering children charges. Washington was at work on Thursday, but was not available to speak with Fox 8 about the accusations.
Fultz said she always felt their children were safe at the center and does not believe Washington was there while the video was being recorded or shared.
"For one, she wasn’t there because she wouldn’t let that happen. I believe that in my heart because my kid's been there for a year you know. If I didn't feel my kids were safe, I wouldn't keep taking them there. This was a new employee that she just hired and she did her job, she fired the chick right there on the spot," Fultz said.
Fultz said Cashmere had some scrapes and minor injuries, but was not badly hurt in the incident.
Police would not provide a copy of the video to Fox 8, saying the case remains under investigation. They said they may never have even known about what happened had the video never been shared on social media.