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October 24, 2014

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2 more arrested in Detroit mob beating of driver

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AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Kirthmon F.Dozier

Desmond Key talks about the auto accident that involved 10 year-old David Harris Thursday, April 3, 2014. Harris was hit by a car crossing Morang street on Detroit’s east side, Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

DETROIT — Two men were arrested in connection with the severe mob beating of a suburban motorist who had accidentally hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped in front of his truck, police said Monday.

Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody said a 30-year-old man was arrested Sunday night and a 24-year-old on Monday afternoon. That brings to four the number of people arrested in the assault of 54-year-old Steve Utash after the accident Wednesday.

Bruce Wimbush, Jr., 17, was charged Monday with assault with intent to commit murder and do great bodily harm, and faces arraignment Tuesday. The fourth is a 16-year-old boy who hasn't been charged but was being held in a juvenile detention facility. Authorities have five days to determine whether someone is charged as an adult.

Woody said Utash, of Macomb County's Clinton Township, remained in critical condition in a medically induced coma.

The boy was treated for a leg injury.

Police initially said a group of at least six people descended on Utash, a tree-trimmer. Woody said Monday that investigators are "not trying to stick to one specific number" as they receive more tips and other information.

"We wouldn't have been able to get as far as we have" without help from the public, Woody said, though he added, "We're not done yet. We're still very much at the beginning stages of this case."

The case has outraged the public, clergy and elected officials. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called the attack "senseless."

A prominent black minister, the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, had said Saturday that it was important for community members "to prove that we equally deplore justice and unbridled brutality no matter what color the victim is or of the one committing it."

Utash is white; Detroit is more than 80 percent black.

Asked Monday if the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime, Detroit police Chief James Craig told reporters: "The issue of race is being looked at. It's not the sole focus."

Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement Monday that the case is "unbelievably tragic," but declined further comment "because this investigation is continuing and widening."

A web page launched to accept donations for Utash's medical bills had raised more than $120,000 by late Monday afternoon. He has no medical insurance.

"Mr. Utash did the right thing by stopping to help a child in need, and, appallingly, was punished for doing so," said state Rep. Brian Banks, a Harper Woods Democrat whose district includes the scene of the attack. "People should not be punished for doing the right thing."

AP reporter David N. Goodman contributed to this story.

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