Vermilion police, Firelands Schools investigates alleged assault, racial slurs at house party

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 11:37 PM EDT
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VERMILION, Ohio (WOIO) - The Vermilion Police Department and the Firelands School District are investigating exactly what happened at a high school football player’s house party in August.

16-year-old Ella Wojciechowski claims a group of Firelands High School football players assaulted her brother and their Black teammate while hurling racist slurs at him.

“There’s an African American kid here. They’re all throwing racial slurs at him, and he was just knocked unconscious,” Ella said. “I’m trying to get him to come home with us like let us give him a ride out of there to his house, to a friend’s house.”

Ella went to a party on North Ridge Road at a Fireland Football player’s house on Aug. 13. Before long she claims kids at the party started targeting the only Black kid there.

Ella said she watched one of the partygoers go up to the Black teen and put him in a chokehold while yelling racial slurs. She said she held her phone down and started recording. She shared that audio clip with 19 Investigates.

“I was hearing, ‘Call me massa and all yelling massa,’ and everybody around them is screaming the n-word at him.”

Ella was disgusted.

“My adrenaline was rushing because I was so upset that my hands were shaking like every time, I tried to talk I was just on the verge of tears,” she recalled.

She claimed the teen was then pressured into a boxing match and knocked unconscious. She said she waited for the kid to come to and then called her brother to pick her up.

“When she told me everything, I was like this is actually really messed up,” said Ella’s brother, Colin.

The 19-year-old said he turned the car around to make sure the kid was okay and to offer him a ride home. He said when he got there the teens refused to tell him where he was.

“I was like its wrong regardless a whole party of people can’t be yelling the n-word at a Black person,” Colin said. “When I kind of called them out for all of that they got defensive.”

Colin claims he stepped in between a kid who was screaming in his sister’s face to tell him to back off.

“Before I could even get any words out of my mouth he swung and hit me in the side of the face and that’s when it just went straight downhill from that,” Colin said. “A kid yelled, ‘Get him!’ I got tackled into the yard and at that point, I was just covering my head because I was outnumbered.”

Colin said at least six football players jumped him. He came out of an incident with a fractured cheekbone, a black eye, and a busted lip. Other players told police Colin showed up uninvited and became aggressive and started the fight by hitting two of the teens.

“I didn’t take any swings at all because going into the situation I knew that there was a chance that it could escalate being that I’ve heard the nature of these kids,” he said.

Vermilion police said when they arrived on scene, they saw several beer cans and small bottles of Fireball whiskey.

According to reports, the alleged victim told police his friends called him the n-word as a joke, and it didn’t offend him.

“He didn’t give me that impression whatsoever,” Ella said. “He had tears rolling down his face and he said how he hated how much these players treated him.”

19 Investigates learned the party was hosted at the home of a retired law enforcement officer. We spoke with him on the phone. He denied there was any alcohol served to minors at his home and said he doesn’t believe any of the kids there would do or say anything racist.

“It has always just been well known in our area that Firelands had just always been that way, has always been racist,” Ella said.

When 19 Investigates reached out to the district for comment, the Fireland Board of Education President Mike O’Keefe wouldn’t go on camera but said they became aware of racial allegations earlier this month and found them troubling enough to launch their own investigation. He said he’s working with the police who are also investigating.

The police chief said he is wrapping up interviews and is hoping to send something to the prosecutor’s office this week.

19 News requested body camera video from police.

This is a developing story. Return to 19 News for updates.