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Charleston man in critical condition after Transit Mall beating

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A 20-year-old Charleston man is clinging to life after he was hit in the head with a brick and robbed Monday night at the KRT Transit Mall, police said.

Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said Brandon Coltey was attacked by at least three men at 7:57 p.m. in front of the Middle East Market and Deli near Slack Plaza on Laidley Street.

On Tuesday night, Coltey was in critical condition at CAMC General Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Security cameras aimed at the Middle East Market and Deli captured the attack and about a dozen witnesses standing nearby.

One man enters the video's frame and appears to be agitated about something, Cooper said. That man appears to start a shoving match with Coltey and at least two other men stand nearby. Cooper said one man picks up a loose brick off the street and hits Coltey over the head with it.

Once on the ground, a suspect wearing white repeatedly kicks Coltey in the stomach and head. Another man is captured on the video rummaging through Coltey's pockets before taking his wallet, Cooper said.

Cooper hopes the released video will help identify the suspects in what he calls a "brutal attack."

"The victim is in critical condition, and there were about 15 witnesses in the video that didn't call police," he said. "They just chose to stand around taking pictures and video on their phones."

Cooper said the three suspects appear to be about 18 or 19 years old. One appears to have dreadlocks. Anyone with information is asked to call the Charleston Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division, at 304-348-6480.

Multiple people at the Transit Mall told a reporter what they saw Tuesday but said they didn't want to get involved with the police. One man said he knows the suspects but won't identify them unless police pay him.

That witness said Coltey fell to the ground after the force of the blow to his head broke the brick in half.

"Once he was on the ground, he was begging for mercy," the witness said.

Someone eventually called police, who arrived a short time later. Coltey was responsive at the scene, but his head trauma later worsened.

Detectives have been unable to talk to him at the hospital, Cooper said.

The Transit Mall has a reputation for drug and alcohol activity. In years past, robberies, beatings and stabbings also have been reported there.

Charleston Patrolman Steve Petty Jr. is assigned to patrol the Transit Mall area, but he had left before the altercation occurred, Cooper said.

"He had been there during the day. That area is heavily patrolled seven days a week," Cooper said.

"This video just shows how quick it takes for something like this to happen."

Martin Arellano, manager of the Rio Grande restaurant near Court Street, said his customers fear walking through the Transit Mall to get to his restaurant.

He's considered hiring a security guard or police officer to patrol near his store on the weekends, he said. His staff sometimes breaks up fights on the street, and panhandlers asking for money often bother customers.

"People are just fearful to come through here," Arellano said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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