The father of a teenager killed with a baseball bat said the 13-year-old alleged perpetrator should be punished but, “We don’t want to see him lose the rest of his life.”
In a “Today” Show interview on Friday, Brian Rourke and his wife Angela told anchor Matt Lauer, “We feel that there’s got to be some kind of punishment for the act.”
The teen attacker, whom Angela Rourke described as “a pretty quiet boy…but very competitive” was charged Thursday with murder for allegedly clubbing Jeremy Rourke, 15, with a baseball bat, moments after Rourke apparently teased him following his team’s first loss of the season on Tuesday.
“I don’t think that anyone rational should ever act that way,” said Angela Rourke, wearing a white T-shirt with Jeremy’s picture on the front.
“We know it was not a spur of the moment thing,” Brian Rourke added. “From what it was described to me, it was more of an act that took extra thought to happen.”
The attacker, whose name was not released, was arrested Wednesday. The accused youth will be tried as a juvenile because no one under 14 can be tried as an adult in California, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Ron Smalstig. His name was not released because of his age. He remained in custody and was scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday.
If a judge finds the allegations are true, the boy could face a sentence ranging from probation to state custody until he’s 25, said District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.
Robison declined to say what might have prompted the attack or to provide details about the allegations. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which investigated the incident, also declined comment.
The boys had no history of fighting, said Tony Trevino, coach of the Dodgers, which had just defeated the suspect’s team, the Angels, when the clubbing took place.
“That’s what’s so shocking and so appalling,” he said. “What happened? What did we miss as a community? What did we miss as parents?”
‘Not a monster’
At the playing field Wednesday night, a family friend read a statement from Rourke’s parents, who urged people not to demonize their son’s attacker.
He “is not a monster. He’s a good boy who made a bad mistake. This is a mistake that will haunt both families for the rest of our lives,” the statement said.
The suspect was the starting pitcher when his team was beaten for the first time in eight games by the Dodgers, a team that went into the game with a 1-6 record.
Deputies declined to provide further details of the attack. It occurred during a regular weekday night game that attracts both children and their parents in this community of 116,000.
Ryan Gosporra, 15, said the incident began when Rourke cut in front of the suspect in the snack bar line. Neither he nor Trevino saw the attack that occurred after the last game of the night with about 40 people at the field.
But Trevino, 50, said witnesses told him the two boys teased each other before the suspect pulled a bat from his bag and hit Rourke in the knees, then the head.
After the attack, Trevino saw the suspect standing against a fence with his parents. “He looked scared. He was in shock,” the coach said.
League officials said play would be suspended at the field for several days.
“We’re really in a state of shock over this whole thing,” league President Ken Curtis said. Rourke’s father is a past president of the league.
A memorial was held at Highland High School, where Rourke attended classes. Students shared memories, and a bundle of pink and black balloons was released in honor of Rourke.
“He’s just a funny kid. He liked to make people smile,” Gosporra said. “You could be in the worst mood, and he would make you laugh.”