With the white pop-up tent, beach balls, and bubbles floating around, you would’ve thought it was a normal family gathering at the park, maybe celebrating a birthday. But the crowd gathered there with a mission and a message.
Austin Hoover is a 15-year-old Sapulpa native with dark hair colored pink. He was a quiet kid, his answers short and to the point, often just a single “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” But this quiet Sapulpa teenager became the talk of the town on July 7th, when he was attacked in the early morning hours by four male individuals—most of them teenagers as well—while a fifth one in the group recorded the incident. The assailants are all between the ages of 16 and 25, according to the family of the victim.
When Sapulpa Times first published the news of the incident on Sunday, July 12th, Hoover had not pressed charges against any of the individuals, but Sapulpa Police were actively investigating it and preparing to forward the case to the Creek County District Attorney’s office to decide whether or not charges would be filed.
On July 9th, the US Supreme Court ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma threw a wrench into their plans. In a Facebook post, Sapulpa Police relayed that during the investigation, they discovered that multiple suspects in the attack have a certified degree of Indian blood to an Oklahoma tribe.
That effectively made the matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Creek Nation Lighthorse Police. After consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Creek Nation, SPD turned the case over to the Creek Nation to complete the investigation. Any charges that may be filed will now be handled by the Creek Nation Tribal Court.
A phone call to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Lighthorse Tribal Police has not been returned as of this writing.
The setback from the Supreme Court decision did not deter Hoover and his sister Stacie Reed from using Hoover’s newfound fame to help push a message of anti-bullying and bring awareness to his case.
Reed organized the at Kelly Lane Park on Wednesday evening because “so many people wanted to meet him.” She says Hoover isn’t normally the type to be so bold as what happened in the video. “He doesn’t like drama, he won’t fight with people,” she said. In fact, according to Reed and Hoover, it wasn’t his drama to begin with—the suspects attacked him because of who he was friends with.
As Reed tells it, Hoover got messages early in the morning on Tuesday, July 7th from the assailants, asking him to meet him at the front gate of the apartment complex where he lives. Hoover said the request seemed harmless, and that the suspects were friendly at first before they began attacking him. According to Hoover, the attack went on for twenty minutes before they began recording.
In the video, you can see Hoover trying to walk away from the situation, eventually sitting down in the grass, and asking them “why are you doing this?” as they continue to punch him and kick him in the head. One of the assailants answers, “because of who you’re hanging out with.”
When asked, Hoover—who suffered a concussion but no long-lasting injuries—refused to name the individual his assailant was referring to, or even why they would have some sort of animosity against them. “I’m not going to talk about my friends. I’m not sure they’d want to be mentioned,” he said. Hoover doesn’t know what could’ve happened to cause the suspects to attack in the first place. “I’m still trying to figure it out myself.”
Reed said the fight went on after they stopped recording, but Hoover couldn’t tell them how long. “When they stomped on him, he blacked out,” she said. “He went home and like, fell through the front door. He doesn’t remember how he got home.”
Reed said that they have not been updated by the Creek Light Horse police, and will continue to cooperate, but that she saw the gathering at Kelly Lane as a call for support to Hoover and others like him. “He chose to stand up to these guys, and we wanted to let people know, we are not going to let this happen, anymore.”