An amateur video depicting a brutal beating of a woman in front of her own 2-year-old son, which was posted on social media before being taken down soon after, has New Jersey police searching for the female assailant, who continued the savage attack on her co-worker as the small boy begged her to stop hurting his mother, at one point threatening to harm the toddler as well. The assailant remains at large.
John J. Pelura III, the chief of Salem, New Jersey, police, acknowledged that his department is faced with this sort of physical violence daily, but this particular “video is physically sickening to watch.” The video in question appeared briefly on Facebook on Tuesday night before being taken down, but police and others obtained a copy. Police believe that the person who shot the video was a bystander who stumbled upon the assault Tuesday evening and began filming on what is most likely a cell phone. The footage depicts other people watching the beating take place and using their phones to record the scene while the 2-year-old son of the victim, Catherine Ferreira, 27, tries vainly to stop the attack by kicking the suspect, Latia Harris, 25.
While those recording the attack watched, Harris throws the much-smaller Ferreira onto the ground, punches her in the face and kicks her in the back, all the while spewing foul language and yelling. The video shows Ferreria being punched no less than 20 times while bleeding profusely. Her son kicks at Harris’ legs and yells at her to stop. Pelura also notes that Harris threatens at one point to kick the little boy in the face. At the end of the assault, Harris spits on Ferreira and walks away, making sure to instruct those recording to not post the videos on social media. Ferreira slowly rises into a sitting position, blood covering her hands and face.
Investigators have determined that the scene of the assault was a grass-covered, partly wooded area between a McDonald’s restaurant and an apartment building located on Grieves Parkway in Salem, New Jersey. Pelura relates that officers received a report of a blood-covered woman who “appeared to have been assaulted” at the entrance of the Harvest Point apartments at approximately 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday. Police found the woman bleeding and disoriented. Upon questioning, the victim told police that after her shift at McDonald’s was over, an employee named “Tia” walked out on her own shift and followed Ferreira out of the restaurant and down a dirt path, where she attacked her and “accused her of spreading rumors about her and her manager.” The victim’s description of the suspect corresponded to the attacker in the video, who wears what looks like the McDonald’s uniform of black pants and burgundy shirt. Ferreira was transported to The Memorial Hospital of Salem County, Mannington Township, in New Jersey where she was treated for a broken nose and numerous facial injuries.
Ferreira and Harris are co-workers at McDonald’s, and had an ongoing dispute regarding Harris’ belief that Ferreira had started rumors that Harris and their manager were involved romantically. According to Ferreira, she told Harris that it had been a joke gone too far, but Harris remained angry.
Police have charged Harris with two counts of making terroristic threats and of aggravated assault. She remains at large, having not been seen in the city since the beating occurred. Police reveal that the search for Harris has widened to include other states besides New Jersey. Bail has already been set at $35,000, and both Harris’ family and police are urging her to turn herself in.
Pelura admits that he is not only saddened by the brutality of the beating itself, but also because society has disintegrated to the point where a woman can be brutally and savagely beaten in front of her toddler while people stand around recording the scene in lieu of phoning police for help. Ferreira defends the actions of the bystanders, saying that they were unaware that the attack was anything more than a simple fight. She added that she feels sorry for Harris, who has two children of her own, because the entire incident was based on “nothing” and has become so much more than that.
By Jennifer Pfalz