Friday, November 24, 2017
Public safety

Arrests made in egg-throwing that badly injured Bayshore Boulevard teen runner in Tampa

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TAMPA — It sounded like a glass bottle shattering on concrete. It felt like a can of soda rocketing into his face.

But it was an egg, launched from a passing vehicle on Bayshore Boulevard at a group of teens jogging Sunday night.

The egg hit 17-year-old Noah Grant's right eye, fracturing a bone, cutting the pupil and swelling it shut.

By Monday evening, acting on a tip that some teens had bought dozens of eggs at a South Tampa Walmart, police arrested three.

Daniel Cole Borgeson, 17, Patrick Wasp, 16, and Tyler Metzger, 16, all of South Tampa, face third-degree felony battery charges. They were taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

"It wasn't a prank," Noah said after learning of the arrests. "It was sadistic."

The egg-throwing incident happened just after 10 p.m. Sunday as Noah jogged along the popular stretch of sidewalk with his twin brother and four friends from Robinson High School's cross-country team.

They've done that 9-mile run dozens of times as part of their cross-country conditioning. They chose the late hour to avoid the heat.

The teens hardly noticed the sport utility vehicle as it drove past them, near Carolina Avenue. They only heard the impact and felt the splattered pieces of raw egg.

Noah fell to the ground. Skin was ripped from his knee. He clutched his face.

His brother, Nick, and friend Dylan Jurski ran to a house for help, not quite knowing what had happened — only that Noah needed help.

As the others gathered around their friend, the SUV made a second pass — and, they say, someone inside threw a second egg. It missed them.

"That was deliberate, criminal intent," said Noah's mother, Jana Grant.

The teens believe the culprit had to have noticed that one of them was hurt.

Sunday's assault may not have been the first.

At the scene, a Tampa police officer told Jana Grant that last week, authorities were on the lookout for a white SUV because one of its passengers had lobbed an egg out the window, she said. She didn't know whether anyone was injured in that instance.

Police said they had recently received complaints submitted through the city's website about eggs being thrown at pedestrians in the area.

On Monday, officers drove to the Walmart at 4302 W Gandy Blvd. to check on a report that teens had purchased five dozen eggs there on Sunday night.

While driving on Gandy, the officers saw a white 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe similar to a description given by witnesses. Police say they pulled over the SUV and determined that three teens inside were responsible. "They admitted to being involved in it," said Lt. Mark Scott.

None of the teens has a previous juvenile arrest record in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The mother of one of the teens, Grace Borgeson, said parents of the other teens were meeting with her Monday night, and she declined to comment.

Noah said Monday that he knows one of the arrested teenagers from Robinson, though he does not believe he was targeted.

A Hillsborough County schools spokesman was unable to determine Monday night where the three attend school.

Noah is on pain medication and antibiotics. He needs eyedrops every four hours. If he pries his eye open, he can see colors and blurry shapes.

He said he is grateful for the fast police work. "I couldn't be happier to know that Bayshore is safe again," he said.

Noah is also optimistic he'll regain his vision in his right eye. If he doesn't, his dream of joining the Marine Corps could be shattered. He expects to know more after visiting an ophthalmologist today.

For now, all Noah knows is what the emergency room doctors told him: He has two cuts on his eye, broken blood vessels, bruising and an orbital fracture.

"It looks bad," Dylan said.

Still, Noah hopes to be running again next week. As a rising senior, he's poised to be one of the top runners, said Robinson High cross-country coach Mark Altimari.

"Nick and Noah, they're very hard workers," Altimari said.

The cross-country team conditions after school every day, and team members often run along Bayshore. Altimari encourages the students to run on the weekends. A group of them gets together most Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes jogging at 5 a.m. or at night.

When he's not coaching Robinson's runners, Altimari works as a corporal at the Tampa Police Department, overseeing officers in South Tampa. He was on duty at the time of the egg-throwing incident, though he wasn't the officer who responded.

He said Monday that he was especially taken aback by the teens' statement that the SUV made a U-turn.

"It's a shame that these kids can't go out and just be safe and feel comfortable, especially somewhere like Bayshore," he said. "It's just sad there's people out there like that."

Times staff writers Jodie Tillman and Michael Finch II and Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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