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Teen charged in assault of CAPA teacher

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 7:06 p.m.

Pittsburgh police arrested a North Side teenager on Tuesday on charges of assaulting a city teacher as they passed each other in a Downtown alley.

The 15-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was one of six young men seen on video surveillance as they passed James Addlespurger, 50, along Tito Way, which connects Penn and Liberty avenues near the Benedum Center, according to police.

The video of the Thursday assault shows the teen punching Addlespurger in the head and the teacher striking his head on the curb when he falls to the ground.

Addlespurger was treated at UPMC Mercy, Uptown. He was released the same night but has not yet returned to work at the city's School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he teaches English, said Ebony Pugh, a Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman.

The boy attends the Letsche Education Center in Homewood, a school for troubled youths.

He was arrested after his parents brought him to the Zone 2 police station for questioning, according to Diane Richard, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman.

Earlier in the day, the teen's probation officer issued an arrest warrant on a charge of simple assault and a probation violation. He was taken to Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in East Liberty, Richard said.

Detective Al Flemm of the Zone 2 station said the attack appears to have been random.

“At this time, there is no indication that the group of kids knew the person being targeted,” Flemm said. “It also does not appear that any words were exchanged prior to the assault.”

Police said that although the assault on Addlespurger bears similarities to the so-called “knockout game,” they do not believe it was the motivation for the attack.

The game typically involves teens who target a victim — often an elderly or physically disabled person — and try to knock him or her out with a single punch. It has resulted in serious injuries and several fatalities across the country, according to published reports.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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