Soldier Pummeled as Group of Teen-Agers Looks On
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Up to 30 youths may have watched as a soldier was kicked, stomped and punched to death because he had wandered onto their turf, police said.
Four high school students were being held Tuesday for investigation of murder in the Saturday night pummeling of Army Spc. Layne Thomas Schmidtke, 24.
″It’s a tragic, stupid thing,″ said police Lt. Rich Resling.
Joseph Daniel Reeves, a friend of Schmidtke and a fellow soldier at Fort Carson on the edge of town, suffered minor injuries in the attack at a busy intersection and teen-age hangout near Fountain-Fort Carson High School.
The two soldiers were walking on a sidewalk blocked by about 25 young people, Resling said. The pair walked into the street to pass and the teen- agers taunted them with ‴this is our territory, this is our block’ kind of thing,″ he said.
Schmidtke and Reeves exchanged words with the crowd, police said. As they neared a corner, two girls warned them not to go any farther because some youths were looking for trouble, said police Sgt. Ray LaChapelle.
The soldiers continued and a fight ensued.
As many as eight people began kicking and stomping Schmidtke for six to 10 minutes as the two-dozen others looked on, police said.
One of the youths, identified by Reeves as Anthony Lamar Phenix, repeatedly kicked Schmidtke’s head as he lay unconscious, a police affidavit said.
A park policeman patrolling the street found Schmidtke in a crosswalk. He was taken to Memorial Hospital, where he died of brain injuries, an autopsy determined. Schmidtke was the father of year-old twins.
In custody were Phenix, 18, Kevin Jerome Moore, 18, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy who were not identified because they are juveniles.