8 middle schoolers plotted girl's beatdown, police say. 'Horrific,' superintendent says

A sign to Sinaloa Middle School is shown in Novato, Calif., Thursday, May 30, 2024. Eight Northern California middle school students have been arrested after a planned assault on a fellow student that other students recorded last week, police said. The attack occurred after lunch last Friday at Sinaloa Middle School in the Marin County city of Novato, about 25 miles (40 kms.) north of San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Sinaloa Middle School in Novato, Calif., was the site of a beating that brought on a stampede of students, officials say. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Eight girls from a Bay Area middle school were arrested last week after police say they plotted to attack another student, who was beaten severely enough to be hospitalized.

The eight students from Sinaloa Middle School, ranging from 12 to 14 years old, were arrested May 28 and booked into Marin County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of conspiracy and felony assault, according to the Novato Police Department.

Bicycles are parked in front of a long, low school building surrounded by trees.
Students at Sinaloa Middle School in the Marin County city of Novato were arrested after a planned assault on a fellow student, police said. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

On May 24, the group gathered after lunchtime at the school and planned to assault another student, authorities said.

When they attacked, other children started recording it on their phones and egged on the fight, police said. One student tried to intervene but was also assaulted; both students attacked were hospitalized with moderate injuries.

Video broadcast on KTVU-TV showed a girl on the ground being punched and kicked by three other students.

Novato police, along with the Novato Unified School District and Sinaloa Middle School administrators, launched an investigation and identified the group responsible for the attack, police said.

Students knew the fight was going to happen the day before it occurred, according to an email sent to parents that was obtained by the TV station.

"This resulted in a very large stampede of our students (several hundreds of them) rushing around the campus to seek out the fight to watch it happen," school officials wrote. "This mob grew in size as they ran through the campus, causing some students to fall and literally be run over by others."

District Supt. Tracy Smith said in a statement to The Times on May 31 that school officials planned to increase security and resources to the middle school, as well as schedule structured activities and group circles for students to discuss bullying.

Principal Christy Stocker and other district administrators spoke with more than 200 parents from the school on May 28, according to the Marin Independent Journal. Parents of the students who were injured said that they were doing OK physically but emotionally shaken.

“This was a horrific attack,” Smith said during the meeting, according to the outlet. “It’s completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.