CNHI News Service
---- — TONAWANDA, N.Y. — A western New York high school student tweeted a threat to lynch a black player on the opposing team and his family during a recent prep basketball game here, school officials reported Friday.
The tweet was directed at Terrell Ford, a 15-year-old sophomore player for Kenmore West High School in the Buffalo area, during a Dec. 13 game with North Tonawanda High School, won by Kenmore West, 61-51.
“Hey #11 for ken west I will find you and lynch not just you but your family too,” the tweet read, before trailing off into an expletive and a racial slur.
A statement by North Tonawanda High School Principal James Fisher and Athletic Director Cynthia Bullis said they suspended the tweeter after an investigation. They did not identify the student but Fisher indicated he was suspended for five days.
James Mallory, Ford’s brother and a former professional football player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said the five-day suspension did not go far enough. Mallory said his family has contacted an attorney and is considering legal action.
“It wasn’t just a racial slur,” said Mallory. “It was a death threat against my brother and my family.”
The school officials’ statement said: “One of our students, a non-athlete, electronically transmitted a racially insensitive and threatening message to a student-athlete from another school. An immediate investigation was conducted by the NTHS school administration confirmed the identity of the student, who admitted responsibility for sending the offensive message. The student has been held accountable for harassment (and) suspended from school.”
Fisher said the North Tonawanda basketball team and its coach, Ryan Mountain, sent a letter of apology to Ford and the Kenmore West team.
Mallory described it as “a very nice, sincere letter. It shows a lot of class.” Nevertheless, he said, the student tweeter should receive a stiffer penalty for his racist conduct.