Missouri Police Seek Man in ‘Unprovoked Attack’ on 12-Year-Old Performer

The police in Missouri said Tuesday that they were looking for a man who punched a 12-year-old hip-hop dancer on Friday in a “violent and completely unprovoked attack” that was captured on video and viewed widely.

Officers with the Cape Girardeau Police Department identified the suspect as Cedric Charles Moore Jr., 27, of Cape Girardeau, Mo. He faces charges of felony assault in the second degree and felony child endangerment in the first degree, the police said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Credit...Cape Girardeau Police Department

The assault took place just before midnight last Friday in Cape Girardeau, which is about 120 miles south of St. Louis, officials said. The 12-year-old, Ethan Hagler, and two members of the hip-hop dance studio he attends were performing on a street corner in the city’s popular downtown area. Ethan’s dance instructor, Michael Curry, known as Crank, had just begun recording the session and was streaming it online.

A song by Gucci Mane, featuring Drake, can be heard on the video as Ethan, who performs under the name E-man, danced by himself. Mr. Curry, 25, and another dancer, 10, were nearby.

As the song played, a black sport utility vehicle drove by, then stopped a few feet away. The passenger door opened and a man in a tank top and shorts stepped out. The vehicle door remained ajar as the man slowly jogged with his hands raised over his head.

Then the man approached Ethan from behind and hit him. As he fell, the man ran back into the S.U.V., and it sped off.

Mr. Curry chased after the attacker, but quickly returned to help Ethan. The boy was treated at a hospital, the police said. His mother, Stephanie N. Hagler, said in an interview on Tuesday that “nothing was broken, but he does have a concussion.”

“I wish that I knew what provoked him that day,’’ she said of the attacker. “What provoked this man that day to lash out at a child?”

In the statement, the police said they went to Mr. Moore’s home and “locations he is known to frequent” but “have been met with a lack of cooperation from the suspect’s friends and family.”

Efforts to reach Mr. Moore by phone and email on Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

Ms. Hagler, 34, said nothing like this had ever happened to her son before. Ethan, she said, has traveled throughout the Midwest for dance competitions and has “received nothing but support and praise from all the other dancers.”

She added: “My son has no intention of ending his dance career. This is what he wants to do with his life.”

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