Chase Coleman, a high school freshman with autism, no longer loves running after he was assaulted by a stranger during a recent 5K.
He was attacked by 57-year-old Martin McDonald while competing in a race with the Corcoran High School Cross country team in Rochester earlier this month.
via NY Daily News:
His mother Clarise Coleman, who has attends nearly every cross country race and practice, is enraged over the incident.
“You can’t tell me that it wasn’t because my son was black,” she told CNY. “He has a double whammy, he’s black and he has a disability so it’s not important — that’s what Rochester is telling me.”According to his mother, it wasn’t unusual for Chase to get turned around or finish behind most of his competitors during a race.
During this particular meet she waited patiently for her son to emerge from the woods, but as she often does, eventually made her way onto the course to search for him after a while.
“I started walking in that direction, and I’m screaming his name out: ‘Keep going, Chase!’” she explained to the Washington Post. “And a young lady came up to me and said, ‘Are you looking for one of your runners?… someone just assaulted him.’”
Witnesses on the scene told police they saw an older, white male get out of his car and then push the 15-year-old runner on the ground.
He yelled “Get out of here” at Chase before fleeing the scene, according to police reports obtained by the Washington Post.
Thanks to someone jotting down his license plate number, police were able to track down Martin MacDonald, who did admit to pushing the teen.
“He thought Chase was going to mug his wife and take her purse,” the incident report reads. “When the deputy asked him why he thought that, MacDonald told him that some youths broke into his car recently and that crossed his mind.”
After hearing MacDonald’s explanation, Clarice was distressed.
“I said impossible. That’s a lie. Chase doesn’t even know how to defend himself. What? He can barely ride a bike,” she said. “[Chase] was in a uniform . He had a number pinned to him. How did you think that he was out trolling to steal your car?
Even more distressing to Clarice still is that MacDonald will not be charged for second-degree harassment — earlier this month, a Rochester judge denied her warrant application.
A week after the assault, Chase refused to attend practices with his team and ended up turning in his uniform without running the final race of the season.
“With cross country, it’s something that he could at his own pace and still be apart of the team,” Clarice told the Washington Post. “I just thought it was wonderful.”
In the weeks after the incident, Chase’s mother has worried her son may have lost one of the few things he felt passionate about.
“We just keep telling him, ‘You didn’t do anything wrong. Chase is good. There are mean people and there nice people and this person was just a mean person,’” Clarice said. “We just keep apologizing to him that happened. Especially me. I kept apologizing to him that I couldn’t keep him safe.”