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GARY | A female student was beaten when four adults attempted to rob a group of school children at the bus stop in Gary at 7 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

The girl was among seven Lake Ridge Middle School students waiting at the bus stop near the intersection of 24th Avenue and Gerry Street.

The victim said the four adults -- two males and two females -- exited the car and demanded cellphones and money.

"I told them I don't have a cellphone, and I don't have any money," she said as she described the event following the school day.

While the teen didn't see any weapons, she said the four adults told the students "something bad was going to happen to them if they didn't give up their money and cellphones."

Looking for a way to escape, the teen attempted to run to safety. She said one of the women grabbed her by the hair and began pummeling her in the face. A couple of boys who also were at the bus stop tried to help her but were held back by the two men.

Neighbor Ben Kitchens said he walked outside his door and saw a lady standing over someone, swinging wildly at whomever was on the ground.

"I didn't realize it was a kid getting beat up," he said. "Her whole face was bloody. She got up and stumbled back to the house."

Kitchens said he told other neighbors about the incident.

"Everyone is terrified. This is the third day of school, and already we have an assault," he said.

The teen's mother, who was at work at the time, said the family moved to the area three years ago from Chicago.

"I'm very angry about this," she said. "We moved away from Chicago because there were kids constantly dying. I don't understand why anyone would do something like this."

The girl's mother said one of her neighbors chased the suspects in a vehicle but lost them and wasn't able to get the license plate number. She said she and her husband have decided their daughter will remain on the porch with her father until the school bus arrives each morning.

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She said she spoke with Lake Ridge Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley and appreciates the superintendent's concern and the alert message to all parents.

"My children shouldn't have to worry about this, especially something like this from adults. They need to concentrate on their grades and going to college," she said.

The teen's mother also said she hopes police will do a better job of patrolling the community.

Kitchens said it took police about 10 minutes before arriving on the scene.

Gary officers were roaming the streets during the bus drop-off time. Authorities said Wednesday they were searching for the four adult suspects.

Lake County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Patti Van Til issued a new release regarding the suspects and the black, four-door Chevrolet Impala they reportedly were driving.

One of the female suspects punched the victim in the face and then was joined by a second female suspect who also hit the girl, police said.

A resident of the neighborhood yelled she had called the police at which time the suspects fled in the car, according to the sheriff's department statement.

None of the students recognized any of the suspects, police said.

Johnson-Shirley said the bus driver had not arrived to pick up students yet and didn't see anything.

"All of our students are shook up," Johnson-Shirley said. "The principals are holding assemblies talking to our students about safety."

Two other incidents, which may have involved the same four suspects, were reported Wednesday in the Black Oak community. No one was hurt in those cases, authorities said.

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.