best friend’s mother says aboriginal teens were terrified in fatal attack

The mother of one of Cassius Turvey’s best friends says her teenage son was terrified during an alleged attack in Perth which resulted in the death of the 15-year-old Aboriginal schoolboy.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with murder following the alleged attack as Turvey and his friends returned from school in Middle Swan on October 13. The Noongar teenager died over the weekend.

Western Australia Police said they were investigating the racial slur allegations, but made it clear they were not speculating as to the reasons for the alleged murder. They said they believe a metal pole was used in the violent assault.

Related: Indigenous teenager dies after allegedly being hit with metal pole as Perth Police investigate alleged racial slurs

Rallies and vigils are planned across the country amid an outpouring of grief and anger over the alleged murder.

Emily Farmer’s 14-year-old son was with Cassius at the time of the alleged attack. She said her son was scared and traumatized.

Farmer said his son told him he and three friends were walking home from school when a man jumped out of a vehicle.

“It was terrifying for the kids,” she said.

Farmer said the boys were offered support after the attack but were extremely shaken. Her son had “a kind of survivor’s guilt, he regrets going down this path,” she said. “They are angry, they don’t feel safe.”

Farmer said his son and Cassius were inseparable and started their own lawn mowing business to maintain their neighborhood gardens. “They were united at the hip, always together, they were best friends,” she said.

The mother said the community and online support for Cassius’ family has been overwhelming.

“The love and support – it was really awesome,” she said. “I’m actually quite amazed at how supportive everyone has been – if we don’t talk about it, nothing changes.

“These are our children and they need to be in our place…it could happen to anyone.”

WA Police allege the 21-year-old got out of a black Ford Ranger before attacking the group of boys returning from school.

Police say the defendant’s vehicle was damaged a day earlier, but they believe the boys had nothing to do with the property damage.

“At this point, it appears Cassius was an innocent victim of a violent attack,” WA Police Commissioner Colonel Blanch said on Wednesday.

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“He was simply spending time with his friends when he was assaulted. I urge members of the community to refrain from any unfounded speculation regarding this tragic death of a young boy. My thoughts are with Cassius’ family in this awful moment.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for October 31 at Midland Oval in the northern suburb of Middle Swan.

Gatherings to support the bereaved family are also scheduled for November 2 in Perth and the WA regional towns of Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Broome, Newman and Tom Price.

Actions are scheduled for the same day in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Townsville, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Darwin.

Human rights lawyer and member of the United Nations permanent forum on indigenous issues, Dr Hannah McGlade, said any alleged racial element to the attack must be investigated.

“It’s devastating,” she said.

“It is essential that the circumstances are thoroughly investigated. To date, we have not seen proper prosecution for racially motivated crimes against Aboriginal people.

The accused is due to appear at Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court on November 9.

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