Four teenage girls were charged as juveniles with committing gang activity after they were caught beating another girl in a bathroom at West Hall High School as part of a gang initiation, officials said.
Gainesville-Hall County Gang Task Force Lt. Scott Ware said a school administrator walked into a bathroom at the school around 8 a.m. Wednesday and discovered two 14-year-old girls and two 16-year-old girls kicking and punching another 16-year-old girl.
A Hall County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer responded and members of the gang task force were called in, Ware said.
Ware said authorities determined that the girls were committing a "beat-in" as an initiation into the Hispanic street gang SUR-13.
The 16-year-old girl who was being beaten "was a willing participant," Ware said. Ware said female members of local street gangs aren’t as commonly seen as males, "but these were members."
"They had not been documented up until today," Ware said.
Ware said "beat-ins" are gang initiations that last a limited amount of time. An SUR-13 beat-in is believed to last 13 seconds, he said. The girl who was beaten did not require medical treatment, he said.
All five girls, whose names are not being released by authorities because of their ages, were charged as juveniles under the Georgia street gang act, Ware said.
The girls were turned over to their parents or guardians pending a hearing in juvenile court, Ware said.
West Hall High School Principal Jackie Adams said the five girls have been suspended from school pending a tribunal. Adams said she likely will recommend that the girls be suspended for the remainder of the school year.
"We have a good school with a lot of good things going on and we won’t tolerate anything like this," she said.
Adams said the incident happened before classes began and that quick intervention by school administrators brought it to a swift end. No other students witnessed the incident, she said.
"Everyone in that restroom was a willing participant," she said.
Adams said the school has not seen gang problems in the past and school officials were surprised by the incident.
"It was certainly atypical," she said.