Hamilton teen brutally attacked with bat undergoes successful surgery
Family of Noah Rabbani, 15, left wondering whether attack was anti-Muslim hate crime
Hamilton teen Noah Rabbani has undergone a successful surgery to repair a crack in his skull he suffered during a horrific baseball bat attack over the weekend, his family says.
The 15-year-old Saltfleet District High School student has a long road ahead of him, but his family is welcoming some positive news after a terrible few days.
"Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes for Noah," his family said in a Facebook post. "His surgery on his skull to repair the damages was successful!
"Noah still has a long road to recovery. His doctors indicate that he will require extensive dental work, physiotherapy, house aids, learning aids and tutoring for a full and successful recovery … God willing."
The family has launched a GoFundMe page to help with expenses, and as of Thursday afternoon it had raised over $9,000.
Rabbani, who is of Pakistani and Muslim background, was badly hurt walking home overnight Saturday when two people attacked him with a baseball bat. According to police, Rabbani was in the area of Rymal Road East and Fletcher Road just after midnight when it happened.
A police news release said Rabbani was attacked after two men got out of a car next to where he was walking, one of them holding a baseball bat.
Skull cracked by bat
They grabbed his backpack before taking off, but there was nothing of real value in there, leaving his family wondering if the attack could have been a hate crime.
Rabbani's aunt, Huma Aslam, told CBC News that it's still a struggle for the teen to speak, so he hasn't been able to give much more of an explanation as to what happened.
By the same token, it's hard to tell exactly how bad his injuries are, his aunt says. "As he starts speaking more, we'll have a better idea of the damage and what rehab is needed," she said.
She originally said her nephew had a blood clot, but later clarified that he had a crack in his skull. Rabbani initially had very limited movement on the right side of his body, but as the swelling has gone down he has started to regain some mobility, she says.
The family has not yet gotten an update from police. "All we know is they are investigating," she said. Hamilton police told CBC News on Thursday that the investigation is ongoing and declined to answer any further questions.
Searching for an explanation
Hussein Hamdani, spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, told CBC News that it's difficult to say just what led to the attack, and therefore it's impossible to jump to the immediate conclusion that it was a hate crime.
"We just don't know at this point," he said. It might have been a robbery, Hamdani said — but the teen's watch and cellphone were not taken.
We want to be cautious and not jump to conclusions.- Hussein Hamdani, Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton
"But typically if these people were targeting the Muslim community, they would target a mosque with graffiti or people leaving a mosque," Hamdani said. "We want to be cautious and not jump to conclusions.
"If more evidence surfaces that racial things were said during the attack, then that would change things."
At Saltfleet Secondary, students are still trying to figure out why this happened, said principal Kevin Graham. Counselors are available to them as needed.
"Students and staff realize it's a horrible incident," Graham said. "Nobody really has the answers yet."
The teen's family says he's a quiet, kind boy and an exceptional student who has won several academic awards, including the Kiwanis Youth Recognition Award. Graham echoed that sentiment, and said the school has never had any trouble with him.
"He's a really good kid."