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3 Toll Junior High Students Suspended in Beating of Youth


Three Toll Junior High School students who police say are gang members were suspended last week after being charged with felony assault in the beating of a 13-year-old student who was walking home after school.

The attack was the latest incident in a wave of gang violence that has hit the Glendale school system this year. Last month, Hoover High School, across the street from Toll, sealed off its campus to outsiders and increased security in response to two gang-related incidents involving non-students.

"There's no question that gang activity in Glendale has increased dramatically," said Toll Vice Principal Tom Vessella. "It's no longer a school problem. It's become a problem for the entire community."

As a result of last week's assault, two 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old were suspended pending pre-expulsion hearings, Vessella said. The victim, Eric Nazarian, 13, was treated for severe cuts and bruises to his face and body at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles on Oct. 18, police reports said.

Nazarian, whose left eye was swollen shut, has yet to return to school, Vessella said.

Nazarian told investigators that he was approached by a group of teen-agers, who police say are gang members, as he and a friend were walking on Glenwood Road about 3:30 p.m.

The victim identified 11 students from Toll Junior High and four from Hoover High School as his assailants, but school officials say they have no evidence that all 15 participated in the beating. "At this point we are trying to separate the looky-loos from the direct participants," Vessella said.

The three youths identified by police as being the most active participants in the beating were arrested on suspicion of felony assault and later released to their parents, Glendale Police Sgt. Dean Durand said.

Nazarian told police that he did not know why he was attacked. He said his assailants had accused him of cursing their gang.

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