The NAACP of Salt Lake City is investigating the stabbing death of a Tooele County teenager who was killed in a fight early Saturday at a Stansbury Park elementary.
Jesse Horowitz, 17, had gone to Stansbury Elementary School to watch a fistfight between a friend and another boy who were competing for the affections of a girl, investigators have said. A group of teenagers and young men gathered to spectate, but as the crowd became volatile, one man began insulting and challenging Horowitz, who ultimately was stabbed several times in the chest.
Horowitz was black; the rest of the group was mostly, if not entirely, white, said Jeanetta Williams, president of the local NAACP branch.
“Jesse was the only African American who was there, he was the only one who was hurt, and he was the only one who was killed,” Williams said.
The NAACP wants to learn more about what occurred at the scene, what people said to each other during the fight — and, particularly, why a knife was brought to a simple fistfight and used against a teenager who was not a party to the dispute at hand, Williams said.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Williams said. “We want to make sure we’re investing to see if this had anything to do or did not have anything to do with race. It’s incumbent upon the NAACP as a civil rights organization to look into it. We would look into it if it were the other way around — a lot of black kids there, and the one white kid gets stabbed.”
The group also wants to observe the criminal investigation and prosecution as the case moves forward. Two men have been arrested in connection to the stabbing: Larry Beach, 20, of San Antonio, Texas, and Roy Coffey, 19, of Stansbury Park.
The NAACP plans to contact the Tooele County sheriff’s department on Wednesday, Williams said. They had not spoken with witnesses to the fight, who “are still really in shock,” Williams said. Horowitz had many friends, who held a candlelight vigil for him earlier this week, Williams said.
Horowitz was scheduled to graduate in May from Stansbury High School. He had been accepted to Dixie State University and was planning a visit this week with his parents, Williams said.