Last week we shared a Facebook video of a fight in South County Regional Park. The video had been posted by Shakeel Munshi and a reader tagged us in a comment.
The video shows his daughter being hit by two or three other girls while several other kids watch. Mr. Munshi’s post claims that she “was getting bullied … because she was Muslim.” In his original post (before he edited it) he also claimed that it happened at West Boca High School, that his daughter was wearing an anti-bullying t-shirt, and that she did not fight back.
Mr. Munshi’s Facebook video now has over 2.7 million views. It went viral because of his lies and that led to a surge of phony outrage from around the world. We received numerous comments, negative reviews, threats, etc. from just about everywhere. The City of Boca Raton and their police department were wrongly targeted by this mob, even though the incident happened outside city lines and had nothing to do with them. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and the school district were also besieged by the mob.
The father’s lies contributed to all of this. First of all as we learned from numerous sources and now confirmed by the Sheriff’s investigation, this had nothing to do with religion. The Sheriff’s office sent out an update this morning:
PBSO deputy met with West Boca Raton High School officials and confirmed the identity of all the suspects involved. The suspects and their families have been interviewed. All participants agreed the fight was over “a boy” and “a video that was circulated”. All parties AGREED to meet and to fight and a specific location and time. PBSO Deputy is preparing paperwork to charge the suspects involved with Simple Battery. Once complete, the investigation will be submitted to the state attorney’s office. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A HATE CRIME.
It should be noted that generally the police and schools are required to protect the privacy of minors. We do not expect that they will publicize the kids’ names, the specific charges filed against them, nor the results of any court proceedings or school discipline. It is also unclear whether the “victim” will also be charged since the evidence indicates she agreed to meet and fight and there is video evidence of her fighting.
Among other lies, the father’s claim that she was wearing an anti-bullying t-shirt was obviously false. In the video you can easily see that she’s wearing a Bulls Football t-shirt. The West Boca High football team is known as The Bulls.
He has since edited his post to remove that claim.
He continues to maintain in his post that his daughter did not raise a hand to fight back: “She didn’t picked up a hand because don’t want to fight back.”
This is also a lie as demonstrated in a video showing a different angle of the fight:
If you look at Munshi’s video post again, you can see that the video was edited. It starts after the beginning of the above video so you don’t see her fighting back. And it also leaves out a portion between when his daughter is on the ground and gets back up. We still do not have a full video of this incident so we don’t know what really happened – and neither does the horde of trolls, social justice warriors, etc.
Another lie was the original claim that it happened at West Boca High. Anyone familiar with the school would recognize from the video that it was not on school grounds. We are told this happened in nearby South County Regional Park but we still haven’t gotten a straight answer as to where this was in the park. And his claim that all girls were from West Boca High appears to be inaccurate as at least one of the other girls is reportedly a student at Olympic Heights High School.
Mr. Munshi even misled us about his own location, offering to meet with us at his home in West Boca. But from an NBC Miami report he wasn’t even in the country at the time.
We have published a number of teen fight videos over the past few years. None of them got this much attention, but none of them made phony claims of racism or religious bias.
Some of our sources indicate that Ms. Munshi was bullying one or more of the other girls in the video. At the same time we have another source that tells us one of those other girls has a history of misconduct. Again, we don’t know what the truth is. And neither does the unruly online mob.
One key ingredient to the video’s virality is the depiction of Ms. Munshi as a completely innocent victim. Any suggestion that she was at all responsible for anything that happened, regardless of its truth, was met by a rage from the online mob.
The simple reality of this incident is that it wasn’t much different from the other fight videos we’ve shown. It does not appear that Ms. Munshi was seriously injured. There was no report that she was taken to a hospital or even that she needed to see a doctor. The “simple battery” charge mentioned by the Sheriff means no serious injuries. Had there been serious injuries the charge would have been aggravated battery.
One big difference noted by many is that three girls were hitting Ms. Munshi, rather than it being a one-on-one fight. Everyone agrees that this was wrong. Everyone agrees that the fight itself was wrong. But any questions raised about Mr. Munshi’s lies or the “innocent victim’s” role led to false claims that the questioner supported violence. This is, of course, nonsense. It is a common ploy for political partisans of all stripes to use (or manufacture) an innocent victim in order to support whatever agenda fits their goals.
What’s particularly disturbing to us is how this incident has painted West Boca High kids as racist or prejudiced. We know a lot of kids in West Boca including the area high schools and younger kids. It is our general experience that they are almost entirely unbiased when it comes to race, religion, LGBTQ issues, etc., and certainly less biased than many adults in the community, in the country, and around the world.
The biggest social issue they confront is the stark contrast between rich and poor that one sees in Boca Raton, with some kids living in multi-million dollar mansions in gated communities while others live in trailer parks. The kids seem to handle that well too. There’s also the gifted vs. non-gifted classification in the elementary and middle schools, which translates into Honors and AP classes for the gifted kids and regular classes for the non-gifted. Again in our experience the kids handle this pretty well.
It should be noted that some in the online mob asserted that West Boca News was biased in some way, in particular biased in favor of the Sheriff or the school district. Anyone who actually follows us knows that we have had significant disagreements with both over the past several years.
Our two most popular videos on the West Boca News YouTube channel are of confrontations with PBSO:
A couple days ago readers reported that a dead body was found in Shadowood Square. We have now confirmed that it was Jonathan (Eban) Bronzini, age 24. Mr. Bronzini, also known as Jonnie Bronzo, was a graduate of Olympic Heights and a resident of Boca Isles North.
He had many friends. One related to us:
He was a great person. He was on his way to becoming a paramedic. He was best friends with Joel Deleon, who passed away almost a year ago. I know he was going through a lot. His dad died not long after Joel.
We verified that Mr. Bronzini had been licensed as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). From his Facebook page it appears he was well liked and an accomplished musician. His profile is full of messages from friends sad to see him go.
I can’t believe you’re gone. I got the news last night but I woke this morning to a hope it was just a horrible dream. Sadly it’s reality. Jonnie Bronzo you were one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I’ll never forget tagging along to all APDFD band practices and hanging out with you. …
My heart is broken right now. Jonnie Bronzo (Eban) I can’t believe you’re gone. We’ve known each other almost our entire lives. From Sunday school to reuniting in high school playing music together to partying later in our 20s. You were always a kind soul and everyone loved you. May you Rest In Peace, brother. You will be missed dearly
We do not have any verified cause of death. The Sheriff’s office told us there was no suspicion of foul play.
In January of last year there was a highly publicized incident involving a few Olympic Heights students. One of them, James Cartigiano, was reported to have been accidentally shot in the head. Cartigiano was 16 at the time.
The Palm Beach Sheriff (PBSO) has now arrested and charged Saam Rajaei. Rajaei, now 18 and a student at Florida State, was 17 at the time and a student at Olympic Heights. Court papers and the blotter indicate his address on Madria Circle in the Escondido neighborhood.
While the earlier reports simply described an accidental shooting, the probable cause affidavit (see bottom) provides much greater detail as to what happened. The incident took place at the home of Jeffrey Zager on Sawpine Road in Delray Lakes Estates, just southwest of where Atlantic meets the Turnpike.
The teens were visiting Zager’s son Jordan. The affidavit notes that the Zager family moved out of state within weeks of the shooting. Jeffrey Zager is the CEO of Jewelry Purchasing & Loan Ltd, a Georgia company which operates as Chapes JPL and has or had an office in East Boca. It appears that the Zagers are now in the Atlanta area where JPL is based.
The affidavit indicates that Jordan Zager, his girlfriend and Rafaei were in the house initially. Zager and Rafaei were “dry firing” a revolver in Zager’s bedroom. Dry firing means the revolver was not loaded and they were pulling the trigger. Later Zager loaded the revolver and placed it in the kitchen. It appears that Rajaei thought the gun was still unloaded.
A lawsuit filed by the Cartigiano family alleges the revolver, a “38 special Smith & Wesson,” belonged to Jeffrey Zager.
Cartigiano came into the home some time after the dry firing, saw the revolver in the kitchen and picked it up. Rajaei then tried to take the gun away from Cartigiano and it went off, striking Cartigiano. Cartigiano died a few days later. There is at least some indication that Rajaei pulled the trigger.
From our read of the facts this appears to be a tenuous case at best. Rajaei did not know the gun was loaded and had reason to believe it was unloaded. While those trained in firearms safety know you always treat any gun as if it was loaded, there is no indication that either Rajaei or Cartigiano had such training.
With that in mind we recommend all parents show this video to their children (skip ahead to 2:30 if you’re impatient):
Portions of the probable cause affidavit are below. We have redacted the name of Zager’s then girlfriend. While she is now 18 and was in the home at the time, she was a minor then and it does not appear she was a witness to anything material.
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office arrested Hunter Brett (19) on two counts of car burglary. The arrest happened on Tuesday the 23rd. Brett is a former student of Olympic Heights High School.
On August 15th a reader forwarded us this video showing the car burglaries as they happened:
We posted the video on our Facebook page and commenters helped identify Brett as the likely burglar.
We reached out to the victim in this incident, who said the following:
We are grateful to the West Boca News and its readers for their help in catching this criminal. Let this be a lesson to other criminals that this is a tight knit community and we look out for each other.
Mr. Brett has developed a substantial court history in his short time as an adult. We don’t know what charges he may have faced as a juvenile. What we can see started in December of 2015 with two felony burglary counts and two misdemeanor counts. He was released on $6000 bond (usually meaning someone pays $600 to a bondsman). If you find yourself in a situation where you need a bondsman though, then it might be a good idea to check out a website like johnthebondsman.com.
While that was pending he was arrested in February in Broward facing five different counts including a first degree felony aggravated battery on a police officer, a felony resisting with violence and two drug felonies. He was released on $11,000 bond ($1100 to a bondsman).
For some reason we cannot explain, the pending burglary felonies in Palm Beach County were then resolved with “pre-trial diversion” which is usually a favorable result for a defendant – no jail time and a relatively clean record.
In June he was arrested again on drug charges, at least one of which was a felony. He was released on $5000 bond ($500 to a bondsman).
Now he’s been arrested for a fourth time. It’s not completely clear from the court records but we think bond was set at $23,000 this afternoon.
The last address we have for Mr. Brett is in the Lakes at Boca Raton (north of Yamato near Cain). He is being represented by public defenders on all the cases mentioned. For the first burglary case it appears he was rejected from the diversion program in August and the case has been reopened.
At this writing he remains in custody. Perhaps he will get out and resume visiting area cars again soon. Of course he is innocent until proven guilty. But since it seems likely that he will be doing significant state prison time, some might wonder why they keep letting him out. This soft approach to bail is commonplace in South Florida but unusual in other parts of the state.
Spanish River had the highest numbers of high schools in Boca in the latest school grades. River edged out Boca High with slightly higher scores in English, Math, Science, and a bit more of a lead in Social Studies. Boca High made the overall score close with a strong performance in the “college and career acceleration” measure.
The top two schools in the county were Suncoast and Dreyfoos, both magnet programs. River topped the rest of the county, followed by Boca High, Jupiter, Wellington and West Boca High. Olympic Heights was not far behind in 9th place out of the 25 high schools in the county with much of the difference coming in the “acceleration” measure.
Both West Boca and Olympic trailed Spanish River and Boca High especially in the English and Math scores, while remaining closer in Science and Social Studies. Graduation rates at WBHS (87%) and OHHS (89%) also trailed the stronger two schools (94% each). The most obvious area for improvement for both West Boca and Olympic is in their math performance. West Boca High was 15 points behind Boca High even though they have similar SAT scores.
As with other data we’ve seen, schools with fewer “economically disadvantaged students” tend to score better. Olympic Heights did well considering it has the highest number in this category for Boca. Inlet Grove High, a charter school in Riviera Beach, had a very strong performance considering its population of economically challenged students.
We previously reported that West Boca and Olympic lag Boca High in AP performance. But this new data show West Boca very close to Boca High in acceleration, suggesting that WBHS is making up for APs with other areas, possibly AICE, dual enrollment, or career oriented classes.
Update: We received a comment and update from Olympic Heights Principal Dave Clark:
I read your article on school grades and thought that I would email you to correct an obvious error. In the article you listed the graduation rate for Olympic Heights as 89% and also said that we trailed both Boca and Spanish River (“stronger schools”?) that each had a 94% graduation rate. As you can see from the table below the graduation rates for the four Boca area High Schools are as follows.
Olympic Heights – 92.6%
Boca Raton – 91.6%
Spanish River – 90.3%
West Boca – 85.7%
Additionally, Olympic Heights had the highest graduation rate in the entire district for “At Risk” students with 87.5%. These are the students who enter ninth grade as a level 1 or 2 in both reading and math.
I appreciate all of the coverage that you give our kids, but please be accurate with the information that is printed.