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Community shows support for teen with autism attacked in Sweet Home

A car parade was held to show support for the teen after he was punched and kicked by a group of older students.

SWEET HOME, Ore. — The community came together on Tuesday to support a 13-year-old in Sweet Home, Ore. after a group of teens jumped him last week.

A car parade was held at Sankey Park for people to demonstrate their support. The parade featured dozens of flashy cars as well as police and fire vehicles.

Katie Doner sent KGW a video that shows her son Gavin Doner, 13, being punched and kicked by a group of older teens at Sweet Home High School on Feb. 9. 

Doner said she was angry and disappointed in the people who were involved and said her son is autistic. When Doner posted about what happened on social media, news spread fast.

"After I saw everything, it just did not sit right with me at all," said Makayla McGuffin, one of the people who participated in the car parade.

Another parade participant, Kenny Bowman, said his brother had been bullied growing up and Bowman had defended those who were bullied at that time.

Chance Bryant, who also participated in the parade, said he was bullied growing up as well.

“Figured now is the time. Can’t really put up with that,” said Bryant. “No one should have to go through that.”

Bryan, Bowman and McGuffin drove to Sweet Home from Oregon City to offer their support and show the teen that there are good people in the world. 

Gavin’s mom said she was overwhelmed by the public's reaction.

"Super grateful for all the support that we’ve gotten, especially from Sweet Home, but from everybody. I’ve gotten messages, he’s gotten gifts. It blows my mind,” said Doner.

She said her son is starting to feel better.

“He likes how people are here to support him and they're praying for him and that there's love out there,” Doner said.

She said she wanted to thank everyone involved in the car parade.

As for the investigation, police said the group of teens appears to be from out of town.

KGW reached out to the Sweet Home Police Department on Tuesday but no one was immediately available to comment on any updates in the investigation. 

SWEET HOME, Ore. February 11, 2022 — On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at approximately 2:20 p.m., Sweet Home Police...

Posted by Sweet Home Police Department on Friday, February 11, 2022

However, KGW’s sister station, KEZI reports three teens have been arrested so far. The motive remains unclear.

Doner said she plans to press charges.

The Sweet Home School District also put out a statement on its Facebook page:

The Sweet Home School District is committed to fostering an environment free from threat of violence, while actively...

Posted by Sweet Home School District on Friday, February 11, 2022

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