Wearing oversized green Hulk gloves, the children at a St. Louis day care were encouraged to punch, kick and hit each other in fight club of sorts that left one 4-year old boy with a black eye on his birthday.
Now, almost two years after two day care workers spent 35 minutes allegedly encouraging 3- and 4-year-old children to fight with one another at the Adventure Learning Center in St. Louis - an incident that was caught on video - the employees involved will face charges, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Mickala Guliford, 28, and Tena Dailey, 22, have been charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child creating substantial risk in connection with the Dec. 7, 2016 incident.
Police Officer Michelle Woodling, a public information officer for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, told Oxygen.com the warrants were issued "at large" and neither suspect is currently in custody.
Dailey, seen in her 2016 mugshot on the left, and Guilford, on the right, have been accused of encouraging the small children in their care to engage in fist fights with one another for 35 minutes in the lower floor of the day care center after the building's heat had broken down on other floors.
"At one point during the video, Guliford, while watching the children fight, can be seen jumping up and down with excitement," police said in a statement, according to ABC News.
The older brother of one of the younger children who was being encouraged to fight took a video of the fight on his iPad and sent it to his mother, Nicole Merseal. He had been worried about his brother, who was crying after three fights, according to Fox2 in St. Louis.
Merseal said her young son was confused by the incident.
"He doesn't understand why his friends were fighting him—why he was beaten up by his best friends. And it was on his 4th birthday," she told the news channel.
Merseal has filed a lawsuit related to the incident and told Fox2 in October, before the charges were filed against the employees, that she didn't believe enough had been done.
“I want them to be held accountable and I don`t want this to happen to any other child," she said at the time.
Guliford allegedly admitted to encouraging the children to fight but said she had done it as a "stress release exercise," ABC news reported, citing documents released from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The director of the center, Jennifer Scott, told the agency that Guliford said she encouraged the fights because the children "were bored." Guliford and Dailey were both fired after the incident.
After video footage of the incident began circulating in media outlets last week, a spokesperson for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told the Associated Press they didn't have enough evidence to file charges. However, a spokesperson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the office has since obtained enough additional information to move forward with a case.
[Photos: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department]
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