Two 17-year-old boys were arrested Thursday, accused of helping beat up a Lodi teenager to the point that he stayed overnight in a hospital and his jaw is wired shut for six weeks.
The suspects, along with six other young people, didn't know the victim and told police they didn't know why they did it, Lodi Police Cpl. Roger Butterfield said.
However, the youths said they were part of loosely organized "fight club," he said.
News of the arrests came as a relief to the victim's parents, who had gathered $1,000 as an anonymous reward.
"Finally someone's not getting away with it," said the boy's father, who asked that his name not be used to protect his son. "Things happen all the time, but maybe now it will show that if you do something like this, you have to pay."
Investigators believe five young people watched while three people beat and kicked the 17-year-old victim at 1 a.m. on June 15. The victim was bicycling home along Century Boulevard from a friend's house when the suspects surrounded him near Ham Lane.
One suspect said, "Nice hat," in reference to the victim's fedora, though police said that wasn't the cause of the assault.
Then, once they'd dented the boy's skull, cracked his eye socket and broke his jaw, one of the suspects threw the victim's cell phone back at him, saying, "We've done enough; give him back his phone," Butterfield said.
The victim was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he stayed overnight. He has since seen doctors several times, the most recent visit on Thursday so they could check wires holding his jaw in place.
He's upbeat but a liquid diet is making him lose weight and is hard for a teenage boy, his father said.
"He's already making a list of things he'll want to eat when the wires come off - I'll get him whatever he wants," the father said.
He and family members had gathered $1,000 for a reward, which was mentioned in a Saturday News-Sentinel article, and that broke the case, Butterfield said.
Someone called the anonymous Lodi-Area Crime Stoppers on Wednesday, and officers began following up on the tip. Butterfield and trainee Officer Larry Fluty contacted three suspects and five witnesses on Thursday.
Of the two juveniles arrested, one was on probation for battery and had previously been on home detention with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, Butterfield said.
Officers believe a 21-year-old man is the third suspect but did not have enough cause to arrest him.
The two arrested are expected to be charged in juvenile court on felony counts of battery resulting in great bodily injury, Butterfield said.
Family members of the victim, who asked not to be named, expressed their gratitude for the work done by Butterfield and Fluty in the case.
Whether there is an underground fighting club is still under investigation.
School Resource Officer Raul Trevino, who spent the last semester working at Tokay High School, said he'd heard rumors of a fighting club or a group of youths who wanted to become ultimate fighters.
The rumors, including allegations of steroid use, were never confirmed and never became an issue on campus.