HEPHZIBAH, Ga. — It started out as a fistfight. Two girls — emboldened by bystanders alternately yelling out support or derision — went toe-to-toe in the residential street before they tumbled to the ground.
It only got uglier from there.
A two-minute cell phone video shot by a witness last week in Hephzibah, Georgia, captures the chaos as others join the fray, some wielding bats or pipes, others their fists. The driver of a black car targets two young men, narrowly misses them, and backs up on the subdivision lawn, striking another vehicle.
In the end, an 18-year-old boy was mortally wounded.
The sheriff in Richmond County has accused nine people — including six high school students — of murder. He told WJBF that any person who participates in a felony that results in loss of life can be charged with that crime.
“Every person who was involved in this type of foolish behavior are going to be charged with the most severe crime that we can possibly charge them with,” Sheriff Richard Roundtree told WRDW.
The disturbing video, shot March 18, captured the screams of onlookers and participants during the after-school brawl in the east Georgia suburb of Augusta. A young man used a bat or pipe to strike the vehicle that eventually came charging. At one point, a teen holding his bloodied upper shoulder runs from a porch toward the street.
A girl, her voice hoarse from the effort, screams, “Call 911.”
As many as 50 people — many of them students at Glenn Hills High School in Augusta — participated in the brawl that resulted in the death of Demajhay Bell, WRDW reported, citing officials.
Bell was stabbed in the neck and died two days later, according to WRDW.
Richmond County District Attorney Ashley Wright said none of the defendants has entered a plea because the charges must first be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment. All nine are being held without bond, pending a hearing, she said.
WJBF reported a 10th person is being sought, and that all are facing additional charges of aggravated assault.
According to Roundtree, the dispute began as high school “drama.”
“That drama that happens in high school, and everybody has gone through it,” the sheriff told WRDW. “But when the adults get involved, that’s always a bad thing.”
A spokesman for the Richmond County school system, however, said reports of the altercation beginning at school are “unsubstantiated.”
“[The brawl] did involve students from school, but reports that the incident began at school are unsubstantiated,” said Kaden Jacobs. “According to our investigation and the information available at this time, it seems to us that this began due to Facebook posts.”
Jacobs said six current Glenn Hills High School students have been charged: Quiasha Henley, A’Lexis Cain, Tyteanna Thomas and Myah Dunbar, all 18, as well as Terry Lee Daniels and Raheem Jobes, both 19.
All have been suspended pending tribunal hearings, according to Jacobs.
He said that Bell had dropped out of a different district high school in September.
The other three charged, according to WJBF, are Quiauna Henley, 35, Eyvette Lashawn Byrd, 39, and Demetrius Lamont Harris Jr., 21.
It was unclear whether any had retained defense attorneys, and CNN was unable Friday to reach any family members of the nine.
A message left for Bell’s mother was not immediately returned.
Roundtree said the community can’t tolerate such violence.
“It was a series of events that led to it. It wasn’t just one incident of a violent act against an individual,” he told WRDW. “This was a coordinated, conscious effort.”