A 17-year-old African-American teen was beaten during a hate crime in Chicago in late December 2011, area police are now reporting. The victim, Joshua Merritt, a senior at Brother Rice High School, was attacked by three white teenage boys who attend the same institution. The assault was allegedly motivated by the black male youth starting a interracial relationship with the cousin of the youngest perpetrator.

The assailants were charged on January 10 for the December 23 attack. Matthew Herrmann, 18, was charged with misdemeanor battery, a hate crime, and unlawful restraint. He will be tried as an adult, while the younger offenders, who are 16 and 17, were cited in delinquency petitions for the same charges.

WATCH THE LATEST ON THE ALLEGED HATE CRIME HERE
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45977840″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”46165791″ id=”msnbc4d3e01″]

“The 16-year-old was also charged with aggravated assault for pulling a knife,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The victim was barred from leaving the home by his attackers after the beating began. When he was able to escape and tell his family, school officials were alerted.

The father of the victim, William Merritt, Jr., said his entire family is distraught over the incident. The impact on his son has been heavy.

“He’s just hurt by it. He’s still really trying to deal with it,” Merritt told the Chicago Tribune. “He’s real cautious of who he lets be his friend.”

“I feel they were being serious, and that if I didn’t get out of the house when I did, I might not even be here,” Joshua Merritt told the newspaper. “I might be dead.”

This crime follows on the heels of an altercation that occurred earlier this month in Chicago when a group of white teens attacked and robbed an Asian man while calling him a “ni**er.”

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb