Crime

Mother of Nampa teen targeted in brutal attack said one suspect owed her son money

Jason Cooley was treated in the ICU at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.
Jason Cooley was treated in the ICU at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

It was a Saturday night, and Lisa Warren’s 15-year-old son told her he needed a ride to meet some people near a Nampa park.

Jason Cooley Jr.’s parents asked what he needed to do so late at night — it was after 10 p.m. on May 27.

“‘He said, ‘That’s my concern,’ ” his mother recalled. “But he’s a teenage boy. His answer is always, ‘It’s none of your business.’ 

Cooley, who just finished his freshman year at Nampa High School, was the victim of a severe beating that left him bloody and unconscious on a city park basketball court. Two 15-year-old boys have been charged with aggravated battery in connection with the beating, Nampa police said.

Most juvenile criminal cases in Idaho are sealed, so details of this case might never become public. Earlier this week, Canyon County prosecutors would not say whether they’re considering charging the boys as adults.

The motive for the attack is unknown. Warren said one of the suspects owed her son $30. She acknowledged that her son has been in some trouble before.

“I don’t know why he would go to a dark place to meet two people if he thought something bad was going to happen,” she said.

Cooley was in the ICU at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise for a week, the first few days in a drug-induced coma, his mother said. He doesn’t remember the attack, or understand why he’s in the hospital. He recognized his mother in the ICU but had some confusion later.

“One day he thought I was his girlfriend the whole day; the other day he thought I was his brother,” said Warren, who noted that his memory is improving. His family is focusing his attention on the future and making new memories.

He was transferred to a rehabilitation unit Wednesday, and he’s expected to be there for the next two weeks to a month. He’ll get outpatient care at home and will be in physical, occupational and speech therapy for up to a year.

“He has a walker. He can get around,” his mother said. “He’s just very unsteady on his feet.”

‘Get down here, your son is bleeding really bad’

Jason’s father almost forbade the teen to go out the night of May 27 but he relented when the teen said he’d be quick, Warren said. She figured it was better to chaperone the teen than let him go off by himself.

She dropped him off near City Acres Park just before 11 p.m. She said she wasn’t sure if he was going to a house near a park or actually in the park.

She then headed to a Jacksons Food Store a couple of blocks away to pick up some cigarettes and gum. She then returned to the park area — which had no lighting.

Warren said she texted less than a half hour after she dropped him off but got no response. He’s always a little late, she said, so she wasn’t immediately concerned — but she called him fewer than 10 minutes after that text.

A stranger answered her son’s phone.

“They said, ‘You need to get down here, your son is bleeding really bad,’ ” she recalled.

Teen suffered head injuries

Warren said she was waiting for her son just 50 feet away from where he lay after being beaten.

“Had there been lighting at this park, people would have seen this,” Warren said.

The city aims to keep kids and others out of parks after dark. According to code, parks are closed a half hour after sunset, and there’s a 10 p.m. curfew for children who are 16 and younger who aren’t accompanied by an adult.

Warren saw her son lying on a park basketball court as she pulled her truck into the park. As she ran to him, she saw at least two others in the shadows, a male and female. They left as first responders arrived, she said.

“At first when I looked at him, I saw blood all over his face. I just thought he got his ass beat,” Warren said. “I put my hand on his hand and tried to cradle his head. My fingers just sunk into his head, and it was like jello or gelatin. I thought the top of his head was gone.”

She said that at that moment, she didn’t know if her son was going to live or die.

“I didn’t know if he was going to be a vegetable,” she said. “Everything changed when I felt the top of his skull.”

Warren said doctors told her that his skull was not fractured but he did suffer a brain bleed, and his nose was broken. She said investigators pulled a shoe print off of her son’s head.

A GoFundMe account was set up to to help pay Cooley’s medical expenses. By Wednesday afternoon, it had raised more than $5,600.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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