Wednesday, August 17, 2022
HomeNewsBig Bully: A Shocking Assault at Harlem High School

Big Bully: A Shocking Assault at Harlem High School


Austin Keller stopped a classmate in the halls of Harlem High School on Tuesday and told him he wanted to talk to him about a girl.

In fact, the 17-year-old put his hand on the classmate’s chest. Keller asked the other teen to put down his backpack and talk. The classmate refused.

So Keller – 5’10”, 240 pounds, and much bigger – began punching the classmate in the face with both fists, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s report. When Principal Dietmar Perez saw the assault and pulled Keller off the classmate, Keller gave the boy an explosive kick to the face!

The 18-year-old victim sustained bruises to the left and right of his face as well as a swollen lip and cut to the left side of his nose.

The assault was serious enough the deputies filed charges of battery and disrupting public schools against Keller, a report says.

Keller acted innocent when questioned, saying he just wanted to talk to the victim “about a girl in the school who made a complaint about him,” a report says.

The victim was treated by the school nurse and Keller was taken to jail and suspended from school.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.


  1. I’ve known this young man for a few years, have been around him before, before I graduated; and have also gotten to know this young man. I find it ironic that they call Keller, in this case, the “Big Bully” when I’m sure they do not understand the meaning of the situation. Of course, violence is never the answer to any sort of interaction that involves a confrontation; but what is important to note is that the individual who he did indeed have a fight with hasn’t been the “golden kid” of his class, either. I say the investigate further to see what antagonized and pushed Keller to do what he did, rather than question him. Interview and also question the other individual as to why such a confrontation occurred. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist.. oh wait, this is the Columbia County PD we are dealing with here, not the brightest cookies in the bunch. Glad I moved to Richmond County. See, it doesn’t feel good to have your PD degraded does it, I think the title “Big Bully” should be removed because it is Defamation of Character ie [Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and have been made to someone other than the person defamed.[1] Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel], this young man was distressed and should be dealt with accordingly, but please do your research. Have a great evening.

    • For everyone coming to the page to “upvote” this comment, please take the time to leave a comment of your own. We are all intelligible individuals with opinions and facts of our own; you have the voice to change anything. As you take your time to come and “upvote” this comment, please make an account. Continue to change the world with your voice, it’s previous. They can’t remove your comments, legally that is. You have freedom of speech, electronically and verbally. Continue to express your freedoms. Always get cops badge numbers and record them via video. There is no law preventing this. Prevent corruption of any kind, and most importantly, flex your rights. Thank you, have a good evening.

    • I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments. It so nice to see someone commenting on here that is respectful, fair and intelligent. Mr. Keller is very lucky to have you in his corner. I hope all aspects of this incident will be investigated thoroughly..

      • Why thank you Elizabeth Worthington! I’ve enjoyed responding to the many comments on this page as well with valuable input! What is important for us to all understand is that this is out of the “norm” for Mr. Keller. Sociology and Psychology both state that we are subject to “norms” that are defined by society; called “extra-social factors”. What Mr. Keller has shown us is his actions caused by these “extra-social factors” and what is important to note is that there is much more than what meets the eye when viewing a case like this. There should be a thorough investigation of this case, and many others alike it due to the fact that our legal system is indeed corrupt. Our legal system does not thoroughly act on cases such as this and believe that the violence is the only wrong here, what provoked Mr. Keller? What caused this incident?! We need to understand that there is always a back-story. Thank you very much for your support and comment Elizabeth Worthington! I hope you have a great afternoon and remember to always voice your opinion, verbally or electronically! Do not ever let law enforcement tell you otherwise, Flex Your Rights! Have a great day!

        • What I will say is that, as a student at HHS, every interaction I’ve had with Keller, although I haven’t known him personally or known him outside of high school, has not resulted in a good impression. Hyperbolized, maybe, by once being in the class with Keller when a student two desks behind him was kicking the desk in front, resulting in Keller’s desk being shaken. Subsequently, Keller stood up and flipped a desk and yelled at the student(can’t recall what he said), no physical contact, but not a rational way to handle the situation from my viewpoint. Another example would be, during a morning weight training he showed up with a friend, and was not signed up for the pre-school weight training and was not allowed to work out, and reacted petulantly and did not seem co-operative at all, instead of being understanding. Every time I’ve heard his name has been in a negative context.

          That being said, other interactions with him, bus, hallway, or otherwise, he’s always seemed considerate and generally kind, but whenever faced with conflict, he seems, based on my experience, to react poorly.

          I would not say this situation is necessarily abnormal from my experiences as you supposed based on my experience as his classmate.

          Where-as the victim (Called victim to disambiguate) I’ve known all my life and can contrarily attest to his character: He can be awkward and is not good at expressing himself often, but that’s a result of him having Aspergers syndrome, as far as his morality, I cannot possibly fathom him sexually assaulting someone. He is one of the most considerate and kind individuals I’ve met.

          The victim may not be the “golden kid” but almost all high-schoolers are not, otherwise the golden-kid would no longer be golden and out-standing(and that goes in to relativity and what’s golden to me vs you); however, he is, I believe the top rank in school JROTC (Or at least near the top, I’m fairly sure about the aforementioned, though) and made an SAT score of 1990 and has always been very good at making friends (in spite of his autism). That’s not the diametrically opposed position to “golden kid” like some may assumed from your comment.

          I’d like to clarify that I am not trying to slander Keller, but simply stating what I have observed of him, and trying to offer a view from the other side of the story to juxtapose with yours.

          You seem very rational, fair, and logical, however, I do believe you are giving Keller maybe too much of a “benefit of the doubt”. (You could obviously rebuttal with I’m giving the victim benefit of the doubt, but I’m honestly trying to be as neutral as possible in offering this.)

          Thanks, from an HHS student.

          • Thank you for your reply! I appreciate the juxtaposed position that you bring to the table! I however, being a graduate of Harlem know the victim as well. I never like to bring up “personal” information when it comes to the investigation of a case but I have personal evidence (a victim statement) that stated she was inappropriately touched. Now, this is something that I have not decided to release but do feel as if it is something that should now be stated as we do have a juxtaposed position. Thank you for supplying your input! As the above statements may or may not be true, we have to remember that everything, unless provided with a written or verbal statement (video included) is merely opinion. Even when I’ve been told information, it is still opinion until it is taken to a lawful official. I do not wish to give anyone any sort of “benefit of the doubt” in this situation, I simply state that we should find out what drove Keller to his actions. We must investigate further and simply find out what has happened that drove Keller to perform such an act. Yes, we should also have the female who told Keller of this incident be a witness as well, as I’ve stated in other comments that they should be subpoenaed to the case and it should all be moved to the fore-front. I love the fact you provide us with back-story, for those who do not know the victim, and can provide us with insight. However, I do feel as if this is an event, and a criminal case, that should be investigated further. Mr. Keller performed a battery crime, we all acknowledge and understand this, of course he should face a consequence, there is no “benefit of the doubt” in my reasoning. I simply am alluding to the precedent that we should investigate further. Thank you for your comment, remember to always voice your opinion! Your voice (written and verbal) is beautiful and should be heard and valued! Flex Your Rights and enjoy your evening!

    • I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments. It so nice to see someone commenting on here that is respectful, fair and intelligent. Mr. Keller is very lucky to have you in his corner. I hope all aspects of this incident will be investigated thoroughly..

    • I don’t see why the other kid needs to be throughly investigated. Young buck threw his hands first, he pulled the kid aside and had the intention from the beginning(though it seems).

      If you want to make the victim a suspect, how about the girl that made the complaint; why not go ahead and make her the main reason for it all. Hmmm?

      This kid is solely the reason of his own actions.
      Being 5.10 240lbs. You must conduct yourself better. Trust me, I know.

        • Thank you for stating your first and second comment even though you rebuked the first comment! I enjoyed reading them both and took them both seriously! Your opinion matters! What I’ve come to realize in this case is that, you and I, are both indeed correct! We should definitely subpoena them both to the court hearing and should hear a statement from both individuals trying to get to the bottom of Keller’s actions. What we have here is a “Cause and Effect Paradox” that should be investigated further, until then, we can not justify nor rebuke Mr. Keller’s actions, all we can state is that he did, indeed, commit the act of battery and should be punished based off of that charge, but in the mean-time, we should try to remove the mud from the surface of this event and investigate further! Remember, Flex Your Rights and always voice your opinion! Thank you for sharing Justin, have a great evening!

  2. Wrong time. Wrong place. He could have handled it much different. He should have talked to the school administrator first. If it had to do with a girl as you say, she or a family member should have handled it. No matter what the circumstances were, he screwed up.

    • While this information may be correct, wrong time during the day. Children in school, and this did disrupt the regular curricular activities of the school day, what is this to say that this young man had reasoning of doing this before the end of the school day. This young man could have had potentially important information regarding the actions of the young man he, did indeed, attack. Maybe this individual was planning to do something after school to another individual and the pre-cautionary measure was to handle the situation immediately. I, personally agree with you that there is reason to believe that this could have been handled in a better place, and a better time. However, we need to see answers, explanations, and interviews of both the individuals involved and possibly any other individuals who had reason to believe this attack was not in “cold-blood”. I thank you for your comment, you come to the story with input that is greatly valued, remember to always Flex Your Rights! You have a voice for a reason. Enjoy your evening John Doe, we obviously know you are a male, so that is interesting! Potentially conservative-type advocate! I enjoy these times in our society where we are openly available, and able, to discuss our freedoms and to help secure the freedoms of others. We shall see what happens in the future. Enjoy your evening. John Doe!

      • that’s true I have known him for a long time he was never the one to get overly angry on any circumstance something had to push him to far maybe there was family involved who knows they need more info

        • I am glad to see that we have more individuals coming to the table to speak their opinions on this case. As of right now, that is all we have at this point, our opinions. However, we do know certain “facts” about the case, the facts that the News is wanting us to know that is complete Libel, and Slander! I, knowing Keller for a decent amount of time, lecturing him over the law and how to abide by it, have been informed as well that he has a high tolerance to anger and that he is not the type to frantically express his emotions, whether they be anger, sadness, etc. I find it interesting that Keller had information that was strong enough to drive him to this kind of conclusion, as I’ve said in other comments, we need to question the young man he attacked as to why he may have been attacked! This is the key to unlocking a whole different side to the story and I thank you for your comment Chorus Kid K. Your opinion is greatly valued, by me personally. I enjoy reading comments that support or even “bash” Keller, in a sense. I’m able to see both opinions and I’m able to see how both sides could be connected. Anyways, remember that your opinion matters, and that you have a voice for a reason! Always Flex Your Rights in every situation, even for a routine stop! Never consent to searches, always flex your rights, and speak your voice! Nothing will happen if you stay within the confines of the Constitution and the Amendments! Remember, Flex Your Rights! Chorus Kid K, have a great day!

      • If there is video from a phone then this is admissible evidence in court if there happened to be a crowd around the fight and also if there were no angles in which the school surveillance was able to catch the fight. Personally being in the establishment before, cameras are angled downward every 50 feet or so allowing full surveillance of hallways and any large space within the school. This should be able to provide us with a clear vision of the fight even if there is a crowd, but only those there who were able to witness this fight know of what really happened. Young Buck, you are also correct as to handling it in a different manner. Many of us would have simply questioned the individual in a more timely manner and potentially after the end of the school day in the parking lot, or simply ask them to meet you to talk at another location. However, what is to note is that Keller is not this “Bully” that everyone is making him out to be. He is indeed a young man who may have handled a situation wrongly, making a mistake, but this does show that he didn’t fight for the stake of “Bullying”. Instead, he actually fought for something that he believed in or that he fought for something that he defended. Young Buck, thank you for your comment and remember to always voice your opinion, and to Flex Your Rights! Know your Amendments and be sure to always express them to the fullest of the law, don’t be afraid of lawful personnel and don’t be afraid of being arrested for doing so! Them arresting you will be an automatic lawsuit! Protect your family, friends, and rights by forcing yourself to flex your rights! Young Buck, have a great day. Thank you for your comment.

    • Indeed! Surveillance footage should definitely be reviewed, and not just by the lawful personnel, and also not only by the school officials. Both young men should be able to see the fight as well. Personally, it is under my belief that the young man that was injured should be subpoenaed to the case to be called as a witness, to try and understand why this event happened. Believe it or not, questioning the young man who was injured as to why he was encountered could be a way of opening up another case that Keller had reason for encountering this young man. You are very much so correct that they should review the footage, and thank you for voicing your opinion! Remember, always Flex Your Rights and express your opinions, don’t be afraid of anyone or even the law officials. If you are within the rights confined to the United States Constitution then you are under no means breaking any laws! Flex Your Rights and voice your opinions! Have a great day.

  3. Here is my issue: I have read the comments. I understand that this may be out of character for Mr. Keller, and the title of bully may not be appropriate. However, he is 17, that is old enough to control his temper even in heated situation. If this had happened in the adult world he would have also faced battery charges. Unless the individual he assaulted presented imminent danger to Mr. Keller, his property, or another individual in the immediate vicinity there is no legal justification to the assault. If it was an urgent situation an administrator, or teacher, would have handled it immediately. While CC may have sympathized with his cause they still had to arrest him within the bounds of the law. It is unfortunate but it happens all the time. Implying incompetance on the part of CCSO is incorrect. If the issue that caused the confrontation was that serious and Mr. Keller was in the right for confronting the other student, he still broke the law by assaulting that student. Also, this article doesn’t meet the statute for Defamation. The definition of a bully is someone who uses strength or power to intimidate or cause harm to a weaker individual. While we would consider a person a bully, socially, who does this as a behavior pattern the actual definition doesn’t differentiate. If the situation is as it has been claimed in the comments, I do feel for Mr. Keller. However, he is going to have to learn to control his temper regardless of his cause.

    • I enjoyed reading your comment FireChick! I’m here to provide you with insight that the Defamation I am seeing here is not the fact that he has been labeled a Bully, but the fact that they have used his size, since he is overweight for his height when placed into a BMI tracker, to label him as a “BIG” Bully is slander, and libel (the written form). I do not imply incompetence on the part of the CCSO to initiating an arrest to Mr. Keller, what I provide is when Keller provided a statement to the department, they had no relevance or belief in investigating further, instead hanging Keller in the wind to dry was the end of it. I’m firmly stating that we should have both of the individuals in court, and any footage, written, or verbal statements should be taken into consideration. We do see that this is out of Mr. Keller’s “normal” activities and routine, but we still need to know the most obvious key to this puzzle: “What drove Keller to commit such an act?” That is all we are needing to turn the tides of what Keller did was as justified, I’m not saying it will ever be 100% justified, but in some sense justified that he did something that was potentially correct. As I’ve seen on the posts on Facebook on this particular article, many of the individuals threaten Mr. Keller, they degrade him about his weight, and they continue to bash him publicly. ALL of them having no remorse for their actions, what I’m here to state is that if the victim has done the claims he has been accused of, then at least Mr. Keller is standing for a particular cause. In conclusion, we should investigate further and subpoena the other two individuals (victim, and the young lady) to the case to hear their statements. I thank you FireChick for voicing your opinion and always remember to Flex Your Rights! Thank you, and have a great evening!

      • I understand your point but for it to be Defamation it has to be untrue and used intentionally when the defamer was aware it was untrue. At 5’10 and 240lbs he would qualify as big. While it may be insulting and a bit of a low blow it still does not meet the legal definition of Defamation of Character. Mocking someone is not defamation and is protected speech. When speaking of legal justification, even if the allegations are true against the other party, he still doesn’t have legal justification for battery. He may have a moral justification but moral justification doesn’t get you out of a battery charge. As far as investigating further, they won’t do so unless the girl involved comes forward to press charges. Due to the tender nature of that complaint the police will not force the issue as to do so could further hinder other victims of abuse from coming forward. While I understand it seems unfair Mr. Keller made the choice to attempt to fix the problem with violence. If he were standing up for my daughter I would likely shake his hand and pay his legal bills. It still doesn’t mean what he did was acceptable under the law. He should have gone to a parent, the police, or the principal. Confronting the other student himself could have only ended in either a fight or a pointless argument that could have endangered the girl he was trying to protect.

  4. Okay idk who came up with the bully thing but ill say why he did what he did and you tell me if he didnt have every single right to do this, first off the guy he did this to tried to rape a girl that was close to keller, now put yourself in this position, lets say your a guy and a girl you know comes up to you and tells you about this are you just gonna let it go or are you gonna beat his ass?

    • What you SHOULD do is go to the authorities so you don’t end up in jail having solved absolutely nothing. Now he will have a record for assault, the girl is likely going to be too embarassed to press charges, and the alleged attempted rapist is going to get off scott free. What did he accomplish? Now I understand that we’re talking about a certain level of immaturity in teenagers mixed with the hubris of thinking they are adult enough to handle the situation. Going to someone who has the power to take care of the situation is not “letting it go” it is making sure it gets handled. Attempting to be vigilante is only going to end with you in jail and that is if you are lucky enough to be bigger and stronger than the person you’re attempting to “beat his ass”. If you’re not you will be in the hospital or worse.

  5. Wow yall. So basically, those of you trying to stand up for Keller, say that’s it’s “ok” to take the law in your own hands!
    No matter what the victim allegedly did, he didn’t deserve a beating from a bully. That’s right, a bully. Keller carried out his “bully” justice as he seen fit.
    It’s parent’s and adults that stick up for people like this that have caused our justice system to go to crap. Letting murderers off because it was “justified” in the murders eyes and you sympathize for someone who obviously doesn’t know right from wrong!

    • Well, did you ever really put yourself into his shoes? Or did you just read through one version of the advents? I believe almost everybody here knows there could have been a better way to have come about this but as a teenager he might have just lost control for a moment. From the strong hate filled words you have written it seems that you are just fired up which is easily done as all of the information hasn’t been put here. Only the negative facts all towards Keller.

      • Im definitely not “fired” up. Just tired of what others find “acceptable”. Nothing that allegedly happened to the girl was proven and happen days ago. There was no provokeable reason to cause Keller to ack in behalf of the “victim”. The only thing Keller did is act on behalf of the bully he is! I don’t know Keller or the kid Keller unfortunately beat or the girl but I hope Keller and his parents that failed to raise him better pay for what he did!

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