CARRICK, Pa. - A boy brutally beaten at a group home in Carrick over the weekend has died, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said late Tuesday night.
Nicholas Grant, 16, was taken to Mercy Hospital Saturday in critical condition after he was allegedly attacked by two teens at the Circle C Youth and Family Services home on Carrick Avenue.
According to police paperwork, Grant had left the home because of an argument he had with Yusuf Shepard, 15. On Saturday, Grant returned to the home, and after exchanging words with Shepard and Malik Crosby, 16, Grant was attacked.
The pair allegedly choked Grant and hit him with a vacuum cleaner, the criminal complaint stated.
Grant was hurt so badly that paramedics had to revive him at the scene.
Online court documents posted Thursday night indicated that Shepard and Crosby have been charged as adults with homicide.
The medical examiner's office Thursday ruled that Grant died from a lack of oxygen to the brain and ruled his death a homicide, according to Channel 11’s news partners at TribLIVE.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini told TribLIVE her office had been awaiting the results of an autopsy before upgrading the charges against Crosby and Shepard to homicide. Police initially charged the pair with attempted homicide and related counts.
The executive director of Circle Youth and Family Services, Rich Knouff, released a statement Wednesday saying:
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nicholas Grant following an altercation at our Carrick Group Home. Our focus has always been on providing safe environments for our residents and staff and that will never change. We continue to work with authorities to investigate what led to the altercation, and are reviewing all of our systems and processes.
"The work we do for at-risk youth comes, not surprisingly, with many risks. We remain committed to helping Pittsburgh’s troubled youth break these terrible cycles of violence so they can lead healthy and productive lives now and as adults.
"Thank you to all who have shared messages of support. We ask that you join us in praying for the healing of everyone involved, especially the families of Nicholas and the two other boys involved."
The county has moved out the remaining teens at the group home, as an investigation begins.
Both the state and Allegheny County departments of human services are looking into the violent fight. A fatality review, which will involve experts from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the district attorney’s office, will also take place.
"It's a real intensive look at the case – a look at what happened here and whether anything could have been done differently,” said Allegheny County Department of Human Services Director Marc Cherna.
Cherna could not speak specifically about the case but detailed what the protocol entails.
He said there is a grief counselor available for the teens and staff who were at the home this weekend.
"In my 42 years of being in this business, I've never witnessed an incident like this, where youth have been perpetrators on another youth and the child died,” said Cherna.
It’s too early to determine whether the group home will be shut down, but homeowners told Channel 11 that changes need to happen.
"I know the kids need help, but there should be more attention given to them,” said one homeowner.
Channel 11 also spoke with Grant’s best friend, who said the home should have been a safe place for Grant.
She said that not long after Grant moved into the home, he started having trouble.
“He told me there were guys messing with him,” she said. “I thought he was exaggerating, and I hear about this and think he wasn't exaggerating at all.”
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