A New York woman and her teenaged niece are accused of beating a middle school teacher to the point of unconsciousness on Wednesday.
Annika McKenzie, 34, is charged with second-degree assault and strangulation, according to ABC 7. Her 14-year-old niece is facing second-degree assault charges as a juvenile.
McKenzie allegedly became incensed because she believed that a math teacher at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead, Long Island “put her hands on” her 12-year-old daughter, the New York Daily News reports.
The teacher, Catherine Engelhardt, was outside her classroom at around 2 p.m. when, cops said, McKenzie attacked her. McKenzie allegedly knocked Engelhardt to the ground, then put her in a chokehold until she lost consciousness, according to Pix 11. The niece allegedly joined in the attack by punching the teacher in the head, Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan told Newsday.
Several other students also kicked and punched the teacher, Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association President Elias Mestizo said in a press conference. It’s unclear if other students are facing charges.
Engelhardt, who has taught at the school for 22 years, told ABC 7 that she has felt unsafe at the school for a while. “I knew something violent was going to happen. I’ve warned them time and again that the children have no respect for adults.”
Officials say Engelhardt had scolded McKenzie’s daughter for bad behavior earlier in the day, and the girl later accused Engelhardt of touching her.
"As any loving parent, if someone puts their hand on your child, you're going to react," McKenzie’s attorney, Donald Rollock, told ABC 7.
Engelhardt is not facing any charges.