Authorities researching hate crime statutes after 2 white men allegedly shoot at, try to run down black teens
YAZOO COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - A father and son are behind bars in Yazoo County today after authorities and witnesses say they attacked two black teens on ATVs Sunday night.
“Not only did they shoot at him, they also ran into the back of his four wheeler, and that could also have been murder right then and there,” said the mother of one of two black teens who were the target of a possible hate crime.
To hear one victim and his mother tell the story, it sounded like something from a horror movie. Two teens, riding their ATVs on a road used regularly by joyriders on ATVs, horses, and in buggies. On Sundays, people like to enjoy the winding hills of Judkins Road. But the 27th ended differently.
“Wade Oscar Twiner and his son Lane Twiner pursued them and tried to stop them and to shoot them and bump them with the four wheeler, so they were charged with aggravated assault,” said Sheriff Jacob Sheriff.
The Twiners are white. The teens were the only African Americans on the road at the time, and nobody else on an ATV that day was assaulted in any way. The Sheriff says that could be significant.
“We’re still looking at some things on that to see if we can establish a hate crime or not. We’ve got to get with the DA and look at the statutes to say whether that would be a hate crime or not,” he said.
We spoke with that one juvenile victim off camera, and his mother was willing to let him talk to us if we wouldn’t compromise his identity.
He said even almost a day later, when he closes his eyes he can still hear the gunshots, and he can still feel the jarring of the truck hitting his ATV. At one point he was able to see one of the men shooting at him from the driver’s side, and the other shooting at him across the roof of the truck from the passenger side, and he can still see it. He said he didn’t sleep at all last night.
The victim said it might make more sense to him if they had been trespassing, but they were on the road, and they were not close to the Twiners' residence either.
Sheriff Sheriff said the two men told deputies that they own land on both sides of the road and they pay taxes, and they shouldn’t have to deal with people riding ATVs on the road, since that’s against the law.
The victim’s mother is the cousin of the mother of the other victim. She said it has helped to have the support of the other family who is involved, but that dealing with the idea that her son was shot at and almost run down for no reason has already been tough on the whole family so far and not even 24 hours have passed.
“It was kind of difficult last night since it was the first night it happened, so we just have to take it step by step, day by day to see how it plays out,” she said.
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