2 Bishop Snyder baseball players charged with making threats toward African American teammate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Bishop John J. Snyder High School baseball players were arrested Monday in connection with threats made toward their African American teammate, according to reports from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The two Bishop Snyder students arrested — who News4JAX is not naming because of their age — are each facing one count of making written threats to kill or do bodily injury — a second-degree felony.

News4JAX reported Monday that alleged racist comments had surfaced, along with threats on social media, against the only African American student on Bishop Snyder’s baseball team.

In a group chat called “Snyder baseball,” there were allegedly multiple comments made, including “hate them even more than black people,” “[explicit] Asians,” and “when’s white history month?”

There was a discussion in the group about using the N-word and another discussion about threatening to break the African American baseball player’s elbow.

There was also a photo of a teen holding what appears to be a rifle.

The African American baseball player’s family posted images of the chat on social media.

“My family has been targeted and it’s one of the most challenging things we’re facing right now,” a post reads. “The threats made on my son and our family have been overwhelming to say the least. I pray everyone remains safe and Bishop Snyder does the right thing, because racism is not a joke. If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything!”

The Sheriff’s Office spoke with two other students who were aware of the Snapchat threats, according to the arrest reports obtained Tuesday by News4JAX. They each told police that they were unaware of any plan by the two suspects to harm the African American student on Bishop Snyder’s baseball team, the reports show.

According to the reports, his parents told JSO that their son had “recurring issues with the listed suspects, as well as other players on the team harassing the victim about being the only black player on the team” and that they had tried to resolve the issue with the baseball coach and principal in the past and were told the racism would be addressed.

“We’ve gone to the school before about the inappropriate behavior because my son is African American. I also have another son there, too. Of course, he had a situation, as well. We have contacted the school at least three times about the inappropriate language and inappropriate behavior toward my sons,” said Corker Wimberly, whose younger son was the target of the threats.

Wimberly told News4JAX by phone that the two arrests bring some comfort to his family.

“I empathize with the parents. Kids do crazy things, but for every action, there is a reaction. For me, I have to protect my family,” Wimberly said. “So we were definitely a little at ease that you can feel a little safe tonight because threats are not taken lightly.”

According to the arrest reports, after the threats, one of the students arrested contacted the African American student on Instagram “to apologize for the racial comments and threats toward him and his family.” The report shows the African American student did not respond.

Local attorney Randy Reep, who is not affiliated with the case, said there has to be a real threat for law enforcement to get involved.

“And threat is a magic term. People have to generally have the present ability to carry out the result of a suggestion that they make,” Reep said.

Deacon David Yazdiya, Bishop Synder’s principal, shared with News4JAX a message sent to families, faculty and staff of the school addressing the social media comments.

“The Catholic Church vehemently opposes racism and has been combating this evil for decades,” the statement reads, in part. “The Diocese of St. Augustine continues to minister and collaborate with our school to combat racism and bring peace to our community.”

Yazdiya goes on to say, “Each disciplinary matter is reviewed individually and handled through our disciplinary process. It would be inappropriate to discuss the matters of any student, but we can say the students in question will not be returning to Bishop Snyder High School.”

Yazdiya also thanks law enforcement, the diocese and the administration “for acting quickly to resolve this matter.”

“Please know that all students that attend Bishop Snyder are safe and secure on campus,” the statement reads.

READ: Bishop Snyder principal’s letter to school families, faculty and staff

Moving forward, Wimberly hopes the school reminds all students that racism and threats are unacceptable.

“I think that the school definitely has to send out a mass email. They definitely have to have an assembly with these kids and let them know that inappropriate behavior, inappropriate racism is not tolerated at all, it’s like zero tolerance for racism in the school,” Wimberly said. “I want everybody to know, we have to get along in this world, neither one of our races are going anywhere, so we have to figure it out, a way to get along.”

Local activist Ben Frazier, of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, issued the following statement after News4JAX first reported on the arrests:

“We are pleased that JSO conducted a swift and thorough investigation of this disgusting incident.

“The positive collaboration between JSO and the public to resolve this community conflict should serve as a good model for use in other problem areas of policing.

“Hostile social media posts like this should never be accepted or tolerated.”

If found guilty, the two students could face some time in a juvenile detention center or home arrest.

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