After the attack, the boy was scared to give performances on the street but began "trying to rebuild himself and recoup from what happened."
Trigger warning: The story contains details of violence that might be distressing to some readers.
A 12-year-old boy named Ethan Hagler was performing on the side of the road when a full-grown man came up to him and launched an unprovoked attack.
The incident took place around 11:40 p.m. at night when Ethan was giving a dance performance on a sidewalk, while two other members of his dance troupe sat next to him. Ethan's dance instructor, Michael Curry, was also present at the location where the attack took place in Missouri, according to FOX23 News.
While the boy was dancing on the sidewalk, an SUV pulled up a few feet away and a 27-year-old man was seen jumping out of the vehicle. The man was later identified as Cedric Charles Moore Jr.
At first, Cedric casually walked up to Ethan and suddenly punched the unsuspecting boy from behind, causing Ethan to fall to the ground. Ethan's instructor, Michael, immediately got up and tried to intervene, but Cedric quickly got back inside the SUV and fled from the scene.
"It was horrible. I was stunned," Michael told The Associated Press.
A passersby who witnessed the attack soon rushed to help Ethan, who was diagnosed with a concussion after he was taken to the hospital.
"Right now he is still dealing with dizziness and his nose hurts," Michael said after the attack took place in July, 2020. "He is just trying to rebuild himself and recoup from what happened."
The boy's mother, Stephanie N. Hagler, also spoke with The New York Times and said, "I wish that I knew what provoked (Moore) that day. What provoked this man that day to lash out at a child?"
A few days after the unprovoked attack took place, the Cape Girardeau Police Department gave an update on Facebook and said, "Cedric Moore has turned himself in peacefully to the Scott County Sheriff's Office today (July 8, 2020) at approximately 3:50 p.m."
Following the incident, people rallied to support Ethan and make sure he doesn't lose his love for dancing.
"I want to make sure these kids keep dancing!" said the organizer of the Facebook fundraiser. "Hopefully we can raise enough to cover any expenses incurred because of this and provide a scholarship for the talented young man dancing, and many more, as Michael sees fit. He pours his heart into dance and gives kids an outlet to express themselves and perform—let’s show them some LOVE!"
After the attack, Michael revealed that Ethan became afraid of going downtown and giving performances. "Step by step he is trying to regain that trust," the dance instructor told The Associated Press."
His mother also told The New York Times that Ethan has "received nothing but support and praise from all the other dancers."
"My son has no intention of ending his dance career. This is what he wants to do with his life," she added.
Man who sucker-punched 12-year-old boy who was dancing gets 7 years in prison - https://t.co/QOowDVSbAg— Matt 🏴 (@Woop__Woop) May 28, 2021
In May, 2021, Cedric was charged with second-degree assault, as reported by FOX10. A 7-year-sentence was handed over to him for the attack.
Cover image source: KSDK News/YouTube