After a violent incident in Tampa, Florida, two people are under arrest and an adult man with autism is left not knowing who he can trust. The victim told ABC Action News that he was just trying to make friends on the basketball court near his home, but he ended up being beaten and robbed.
“They tried to take my phone. They beat me up. They punched me in my face,” the 22-year-old man said. The young man suffers from autism, the neurological disorder that can inhibit and impair communication and social interactions and affects one in 68 children nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The victim, whose father asked that he not be named, had gone to a basketball court near his home on Sunday, December 3, The Washington Post reported. He enjoys playing the sport and was hoping to make new friends with whom he could play. Unfortunately, things quickly went awry. Whether it was a misunderstanding or a ruse, the young man was accused of stealing someone’s cellphone.
The autistic man protested, telling his accusers, “Listen, I have a disability. I’m not like you. I don’t act like a normal 22-year-old kid.”
That’s when 25-year-old Terrell Newton and an unnamed 16-year-old accomplice attacked the man, stealing his cellphone and shoes. The victim then chased his attackers as they fled up the road. When he caught up to them, they dragged him into an alley, beating him again, kicking and punching him.
After the attack, the victim told a concerned citizen, who called the police. Deputies quickly apprehended the two assailants and arrested them.
According to The Washington Post, both Newton and the 16-year-old accomplice have been charged with robbery and abuse of a disabled adult. As for his victim, according to ABC Action News, he says he no longer knows who to trust and would rather stay inside and keep to himself.
[Photo: Hillsborough County Jail]