Deer Park, TX – The stepfather of a preteen girl has been arrested for allegedly slapping a boy who bullied her.
The incident began on Feb. 14, when a 12-year-old male classmate and his friend started harassing the girl while she was walking home from school, KTRK reported.
"Saying that her body was ugly, said that she was a transvestite, started throwing ice cream at her and then they picked up the rocks," said the girl’s mother, who did not want to be named.
The girl ultimately called her parents to come pick her up, so her stepfather, 37-year-old James Peace, jumped into his car and went to help her, the Star-Telegram reported.
Although the boys were gone when Peace arrived, Peace soon stumbled upon them walking on Santa Fe Trail during the drive home.
"On the drive home, they happened to see the suspect juvenile walking and that's when the stepdad decided to stop and confront the kid," Deer Park Police Lieutenant Chris Brown told KTRK.
Surveillance footage showed Peace as he got out of his vehicle and began yelling at the preteen boy.
Then, the enraged father struck him in the face.
"He was slapped across the face with an open hand, had red marks and swelling to his cheek and upper jaw," Lt. Brown explained.
Peace then allegedly threatened to beat the child up if he told anyone about what had occurred.
The following day, the boy told his teacher he was scared to go to lunch because he didn’t want to see Peace’s stepdaughter, KHOU reported.
The 12-year-old ended up telling his teacher what had occurred the day prior, and Deer Park police were subsequently notified.
A witness later told investigators that she saw Peace “reach back and strike the boy in the face, and that the boy just stood there in shock and never retaliated,” the criminal complaint read, according to the Star-Telegram.
The officers also spoke with the girl at her residence, and she told them that Peace slapped the boy after he bullied her, KHOU reported.
Peace initially told officers that nothing had occurred, but later confessed to striking the boy after investigators told him that the encounter was recorded by a nearby surveillance camera.
He was arrested on Monday evening for felony injury to a child under 15, and was later released on $15,000 bond, the Star-Telegram reported.