Four people are in custody after a "disturbing" and "brutal" video showing a man with "mental health challenges" being tied up, beaten and tortured was streamed live on Facebook "for the entire world to see," Chicago Police say.
Police told WFLD-TV they became aware of the video Wednesday afternoon and the incident occurred Tuesday. The group appearing to hold the man hostage are black, while the victim is white, but police say they have not yet determined if the case will be investigated as a hate crime.
In the video, one of the attackers can be heard yelling, "f*ck Donald Trump n*gger, f*ck white people, boy."
Police told WBBM-TV the victim has special needs and was a high-risk missing person from northwest suburban Crystal Lake.
The investigation is still ongoing.
You can watch the video below:
Several other videos were from the incident were posted on social media. In one, the victim is forced at knifepoint to say "f*ck Donald Trump."
The victim, who is seen in the first video being kicked and punched and cut on his scalp, was hospitalized to be treated for his injuries, police said. He was recovering on Wednesday. The names of those in custody have not been released.
The 18-year-old man had last been seen by his parents on December 31, and they told police they received texts from his captors while he was with them, WLS-TV reports. His parents live in Streamwood, Illinois, a suburb in Cook County, and police there are also investigating the case.
Police told WBBM the victim traveled to Carol Stream to meet a friend, and they ended up in a stolen car, which was driven to the West Side of Chicago, where the attack took place in a home in the 3400 block of Lexington Avenue.
The 30-minute video was originally posted on Facebook Live by Brittany Herring, but has been deleted. It has since been re-uploaded on Youtube and elsewhere.
Police said the four people in custody have not yet been formally charged. One of the suspects is the person who posted the video on Facebook.
The department issued a statement on Twitter calling the video "disturbing" and saying the suspects are being questioned:
Regarding the disturbing video that surfaced on social media of a battery: Incident is under investigation/suspects are being questioned pic.twitter.com/GGi3qs9rGv
While on patrol Officers observed a disoriented male walking 3400 W. Lexington on January 3, 2017 who was then transported to an area hospital for treatment. At 5:26 p.m. officers then responded to a battery at a residence on the 3300 block of W. Lexington where they discovered signs of a struggle and damage to the property and (were) able to link this evidence to the disoriented male. Officers later became aware of a social media video depicting a batter of an adult male which is believed to be the same individual. At this point CPD believes the video is credible and detectives are questioning persons of interest in the case. The victim, whom CPD believes is from a neighboring suburb, was transported to an area hospital in stable condition. The investigation is ongoing.
Police held a press conference Wednesday night to address the incident. You can watch that below:
CPD press conference regarding disturbing live social media video depicting a battery ; victim was tied up https://t.co/jDrjfz4sJV
"I've said time and time again that if you commit an act of violence in the city of Chicago, you will feel the full weight of the Chicago Police Department," Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at the press conference. "And tonight, four individuals have experienced the consequences of their actions."
Captain Steven Sesso, the commanding officer of the 11th District, said "alert 11th District officers encountered" the victim and it "didn't feel right, the situation. They saw clearly this individual was in distress, that he was in crisis. And they cared enough to do something about it."
Commander Kevin Duffin, who leads the detectives investigating the incident, said three of the suspects are Chicago residents and the fourth is from Carpentersville, Illinois. The Cook County State's Attorney’s Office was interviewing the victim and charges were expected to be filed by Thursday.
Duffin said the victim is "an acquaintance" of one of the people in custody, and they "met in the suburbs, the subjects then stole a van out in the suburbs and drove him into Chicago." He knew one of the subjects from high school, police said.
He said they are still talking to the victim and there is "quite a possibility it is a kidnapping."
Duffin said the victim is "traumatized by the incident" and it is hard for detectives to communicate with him.
Police said the victim was with the group for at least 24 hours and as many as 48 hours. Duffin said it appears he was eventually just cut free and let go, which is when he was found by patrol officers.
As to whether it was a hate crime, Johnson said they are still investigating and if the facts lead them in that direction, they will file hate crime charges.
"Kids make stupid mistakes, I shouldn’t call them kids, they are legally adults, but they are young adults and the make stupid decisions," Duffin said of the vulgar remarks about Trump and white people. "That certainly will be part of whether or not we seek a hate crime, determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving."
The suspects are 18, Duffin said.
"It's sickening," Johnson said of the video. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I've been a cop for 28 years and I've seen things you shouldn't see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still things you just shouldn't. I’m not going to say it shocked me, but it was sickening."
Johnson said the incident doesn't appear to be politically motivated.
"I think part of it is just stupidity," Johnson said. "People ranting about something they think might make a headline. At this point we don't have anything concrete to point (toward a hate crime) but we'll keep investigating and let the facts guide us on how this concludes."
Johnson said he can’t connect what happened in the video to Trump talking and tweeting about violence in Chicago.
"If you looked at the video, it was just stupidity," Johnson said.
The video begins with the group of apparent captors yelling at the tied up man. They cut the sleeves of his sweatshirt as one says they’re going to make him "butt ass naked."
The woman filming the video then appears to realize she's on Facebook Live, but continues recording as she smokes. The video also includes numerous references to drinking and getting drunk.
The group makes several references to Donald Trump at the beginning of the video, yelling his name and cursing him.
The video was quickly spread around on social media, and #BLMKidnapping was trending on Twitter by Wednesday night.
In mid-November, four people were arrested after a man was attacked and robbed in Chicago while bystanders yelled "don't vote for Trump," DNAInfo reported. That attack was also caught on video:
The 50-year-old victim later said he voted for Trump, but did not have a bumper stick on his car or anything else to identify him as a Trump voter, according to DNAInfo.
Johnson said he didn’t know of any other incidents involving assaults targeting Trump supporters in the city.
Facebook said it deleted the original video from the social media site.
"We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason," the company said in a statement to The Guardian. "In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed."
It is also not the first time a disturbing Facebook Live video has made the news in Chicago. In two separate occasions, men were shot while streaming live video on Facebook. One man was killed and the other was seriously wounded.