A 17-year-old Detroit teen has been charged with the capital offense of assault with intent to commit murder and do great bodily harm in the mob beating of a driver who accidentally struck a 10-year-boy after the boy walked in front of his truck. Bruce Wimbush, Jr., 17, was charged with the crime by Wayne County prosecutors and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing on Monday afternoon. Police were able to view footage of the incident from a security camera at a nearby gas station, but the attack itself was not captured. They have stated that the driver, Steve Utash, was not at fault in the incident, which occurred on April 2 at approximately 4:10 p.m. while Utash was driving home from work. Police continue to look for the remaining suspects.
Wimbush was part of a group consisting of at least six people who attacked the truck driver on Wednesday “with their fists and feet,” according to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. Utash, 54, was beaten severely by the mob after he exited his truck in order to aid the victim, David Harris, 10, and was hospitalized at St. John’s Hospital. Utash remains in a medically-induced coma with numerous head injuries and is in critical condition. Harris was not seriously injured but did suffer a broken foot, according to his uncle, Desmond Key. Utash’s family claims that the mob went into his truck and took equipment as well as his paycheck. Although Utash is white and his attackers were black, police do not believe that the beating was racially motivated.
In addition to Wimbush, police also arrested a 16-year-old boy on Saturday and have said that they continue to search for others involved. The unnamed teen has not been charged as of yet, but is scheduled to appear in juvenile court on Monday. Prosecutors have to decide within five days whether to charge the teen as an adult. Prosecutors do not believe that Wimbush has hired an attorney. If convicted, Wimbush faces a sentence of up to life in prison for the assault with intent to murder charge. If convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, he could face up to ten years behind bars.
The mob beating of Utash, from Clinton Township in Macomb County, has Detroit’s citizens, elected officials and clergy outraged. The mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan, referred to the attack as “senseless.” Along with City Council President Brenda Jones, he issued a statement asking for the public’s health in solving the crime and for the community to have patience and to stay calm. One of Detroit’s prominent pastors, Reverend Horace Sheffield III, asked the public to search the area block by block in an effort to find the rest of the “heartless perpetrators.”
Donations are being accepted via a web page in order to help Utash, a tree trimmer who has no medical insurance, with his medical bills. As of Monday afternoon, $117,000 had been raised. According to family, Utash loves gaming and science fiction, but his real passion is caring for trees. Utash’s daughter, Mandi Emerick, was quoted in The Detroit News saying, “I never expected this….The whole nation is rooting for him to wake up and be OK.”
By Jennifer Pfalz
Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press