A black college freshman in California who was allegedly subjected to racially-charged torment by his three white suitemates is described as a "mild-mannered, sweet kid" who was physically afraid of his roommates and what they would do if he reported the abuse.
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From August until October, prosecutors allege three freshmen at California's San Jose State University taunted their black suitemate with racial epithets, Nazi imagery and on one occasion, clamped a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck.
The three suspects, Logan Beaschler and Colin Warren, both 18, and Joseph Bomgardner, 19, have been suspended pending an investigation and are being charged with a misdemeanor hate crime and battery, police said. They have not yet entered a plea. A fourth unnamed student was also suspended from the school in connection with the incidents, the school said late Friday.
"[The victim] really wanted to just get along. I think he hoped this would go away, and I think another big part of it was he was physically scared of them," Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Erin West told ABCNews.com.
The victim's name has not been released to protect his identity.
"There were mean tricks played on him -- barricading him in his bedroom and putting their hands on him to put this bike lock around his neck," West said. "It seems clear the motivation for that battery was motivated by hate."
Instead of calling the victim by his name, West said the suspects called him "Three-Fifths," a reference to the fraction used more than a century ago to count slaves for the purpose of Congressional representation in the U.S. Census.
When the victim objected, she said they changed the cruel nickname to "Fraction."
As the semester progressed, West said the teen spent less time in his suite and instead went home on the weekends to escape the alleged torment.
His parents took him back to the residence hall one weekend in October and saw why.
"They saw the n-word written on a dry erase board in his suite and saw the confederate flag," West said.
The parents immediately filed a report with college officials. San Jose State University spokeswoman Pat Harris told ABCNews.com that an investigation was launched the same day housing staff was made aware of the allegations.
Two suspects were relocated to single rooms elsewhere on campus, while a third suspect, who was initially believed to be a bystander, was removed from the suite on Thursday when he was identified as an offender, Harris said.
Outrage and Sadness on Campus
The racially charged allegations have sent shockwaves through the San Jose State University community, which includes 31,000 students and 5,000 faculty members.
Supporters gathered around a statue of black Olympian Tommie Smith on campus on Thursday to show solidarity for the victim, who is still attending classes and living on campus.
The university's president, Mohammad Qayoumi, said in an email he was "outraged and saddened by these allegations."
"They are utterly inconsistent with our long-cherished history of tolerance, respect for diversity and personal civility," he said in an email to students and faculty that was obtained by ABCNews.com.
Qayoumi said the school speaks to freshmen about discrimination and harassment during orientation. However, the school plans to re-examine its diversity programs and safety measures within on-campus housing and throughout the university.
Attempts to contract the three students were unsuccessful.