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A brutal fight put Kaylee Gain in the ICU. Now, officials weigh charging her suspected attacker as an adult

Kaylee Gain left the ICU and is breathing on her own, her family said on Friday  (Supplied)
Kaylee Gain left the ICU and is breathing on her own, her family said on Friday (Supplied)

Kaylee Gain, a teenage student from St Louis, Missouri, was brutally beaten near her high school on 8 March.

The 16-year-old suffered a skull fracture, and bleeding and swelling on the brain, during the fight. On Friday, 22 March, her family announced that she is breathing on her own and out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Meanwhile, the suspected attacker’s family caused outrage by starting a Change.org petition calling for the fifteen-year-old to be tried as a juvenile.

Here is everything we know about Kaylee’s condition, and the teenager who has been charged with her assault.

Brutal attack caught on video

Around 2.30 pm on 8 March, St Louis police were called to an intersection near Hazelwood East High School and discovered a teenage girl, later revealed to be Kaylee, suffering from a head injury after a brawl.

The fight was captured on video and went viral soon afterwards, receiving millions of views on social media. The footage showed a fight between two girls with a large group surrounding them on the street.

Kaylee Gain has left the ICU and is breathing on her own, her family said on 22 March (Supplied)
Kaylee Gain has left the ICU and is breathing on her own, her family said on 22 March (Supplied)

One girl can be seen pushing Kaylee to the ground, and slamming her head against the concrete. Some bystanders then tried to break up the fight, but others began fighting themselves.

The Hazelwood School District said it is a “tragedy” anytime that a child is hurt.

“Bullying and fighting in the community is an issue for which we all need to take ownership and work towards a resolution for the sake of our children,” the statement read. “The Hazelwood School District offers our sincerest condolences to everyone involved, and will offer additional emotional support from our support and crisis team to those in need.”

St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell called the video “sickening” but said that his office did not have the power to act in the case and that the juvenile court division would handle the situation.

Kaylee leaves ICU as GoFundMe raises thousands

Kaylee spent nearly two weeks in the ICU following the fight, suffering from a fractured skull, brain bleed and swelling.

“The full scope and extent of Kaylee’s injuries and prognosis for recovery cannot be determined until, with God’s grace, she regains consciousness,” Bryan Kaemmerer, an attorney for her family, said last week.

Kaylee’s family established a GoFundMe to pay for her care and recovery. They have raised nearly $400,000, with billionaire investor Bill Ackman donating $10,000.

On 22 March, Kaylee’s mother April Nordstrom announced on GoFundMe that her daughter was removed from the ICU.

“We are so happy and blessed to announce that Kaylee is now stable, breathing on her own , and was moved out of the ICU,” Ms Nordstrom wrote in an update. “She still has an incredibly long journey ahead of her but she is strong.”

The suspected teenage attacker

Soon after the brawl, St Louis police arrested an unnamed 15-year-old believed to be Kaylee’s attacker. The teenager is in custody and it is yet unclear whether she will be charged as an adult.

After her arrest, the teen’s aunt set up a Change.org petition calling on Chief Juvenile Officer Rick Gaines not to charge her as an adult. The girl is a multilingual honour roll student who was “defending herself from harassment and bullying” during the attack, the petition states.

“We ask that the Juvenile Court use a combination of Restorative Justice and Rehabilitation methods instead of only using punitive measures to address the harm that occurred,” the petition reads. The petition has just over 800 signature on 24 March.

The family had also started their own GoFundMe campaign to help with the 15-year-old’s legal bills. It raised $3,000 before GoFundMe officials removed the page for violating the terms of service.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey called for the girl to be tried as an adult on 22 March. However, the choice is still up to the Juvenile Court.

“There is no discretion that the court has to hold a certification hearing when you have teens who should know better who do know better and they’re committing adult crimes,” Mr Bailey said, KSDK reported. “There needs to be adult punishments.”

The GoFundMe for Kaylee Gain has raised nearly $400,000 as of 24 March (Bryan M Kaemmerer, an attorney representing Kaylee Gain’s family.)
The GoFundMe for Kaylee Gain has raised nearly $400,000 as of 24 March (Bryan M Kaemmerer, an attorney representing Kaylee Gain’s family.)

Law enforcement and school responds

Mr Bailey also announced that he is investigating the Hazelwood School District, claiming their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies led to Kaylee’s injuries, KSDK reported.

The attorney general claimed that the district adopted a “statement of solidarity” to “‘reevaluate the district’s relationship with local police,’” and as a result removed uniformed officers from their schools.

“Notably, during the attack on Ms. Gain, which was captured on video by other students, not a single school resource officer was on the scene to protect Ms. Gain or restore order,” he wrote, in a letter to the school district’s superintendent.

“The absence of SROs on the scene is directly attributable to Hazelwood’s insistence on prioritizing race-based policies over basic student safety. By its actions, HSD has endangered not only Ms. Gain, but the general school community writ large.”

In response to the letter, the Hazelwood School District (HSD) reaffirmed its commitment to the policies.

“Contrary to recent statements, HSD does not prioritize DEI initiatives at the expense of student safety,” the district said, according to KSDK. “Rather, we believe that fostering an inclusive environment is essential to ensuring the well-being of every member of our school community.”