CLAREMONT, N.H. - The family of an 8-year-old biracial boy in New Hampshire said teenagers taunted him with racial slurs and pushed him off a picnic table while he had a rope around his neck.
It happened in a backyard near Barnes Park on August 28.
The boy's family told Boston 25 News he was treated at a hospital for cuts to his neck following the near-hanging in Claremont, about 65 miles northwest of Manchester.
"They were trying to talk him into putting the rope around his neck," the boy’s cousin, Scott Kneeland, said. "They did it and then he did it, being young and got pushed off the table “swung once swung twice swung three times."
The boy managed to free himself after the third swing, but the physical damage to his neck was obvious. The swelling progressively got worse and a medical helicopter was needed to take the boy to the hospital.
"If you looked at his neck he shouldn’t have been here and how he survived that and was able to get that rope off his neck is a miracle," the boy's grandmother Lorrie Slattery told Boston 25 News reporter Drew Karedes.
Slattery says the children were in a backyard when some of the teens got on the table and grabbed a rope that used to hold a tire swing.
The case is drawing a firestorm of outrage across the country. Some are accusing authorities of withholding information on the investigation.
The Claremont Police Chief hasn’t been answering questions on the case. He says that’s because the investigation revolves around minors, all ages 14 and younger.
Family members insist there is “no doubt in their minds” that this was racially motivated.
“These kids are known to be racial. They said [racial slurs] to him, they said them to other kids," Kneeland said.
Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway declined to answer questions about the investigation, but said a whole lot of resources are being devoted to getting answers.
The Attorney General’s Office has sent a team to help local police in this emotionally-charged investigation.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said in a written statement that “bigotry and hatred will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.” Governor Sununu has asked for regular updates from all of the authorities involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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