JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi sheriff says a man was beaten and shot two weeks after calling authorities to report a cross burning in his yard, and investigators are trying to determine whether the attack was prompted by people being upset that the man was visited by his mixed-race grandchildren.
Deputies were called to a disturbance Friday night in a rural community outside Raleigh. Craig Wilson had been shot in the stomach and was taken to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said Smith County Sheriff Charlie Crumpton. He was in fair condition Tuesday, a hospital spokesman said.
Investigators heard “numerous” reports from relatives about what might have started a confrontation between Wilson and 37-year-old Jeff Daniels, Crumpton said. Among other things, the sheriff said investigators were checking whether it might have been connected to people being upset about visits from Wilson’s mixed-race grandchildren. The children’s mother is white, and their father is black, the sheriff said.
Crumpton said Daniels was arrested Friday and booked with aggravated assault. He was released Monday on $20,000 bond.
Wilson and Daniels are both white. The victim is the boyfriend of the arrested man’s mother, Crumpton told The Associated Press.
Crumpton said he doesn’t know whether there’s a connection between the cross burning and the shooting. He said Wilson called the sheriff’s department and investigators went to see the burned cross, but Wilson didn’t press charges.
The shooting and beating took place outside Daniels’ father’s home in the Cohay (CO-hay) community of Smith County, about 45 miles southeast of Jackson, the sheriff said. Wilson lives next door, sharing the home with his neighbor’s ex-wife, who is Daniels’ mother, said Crumpton. The sheriff said Daniels lives across the road.
Wilson’s sister, Julie Wilson, told WLBT-TV that Daniels and his son, who’s a minor, showed up at Craig Wilson’s home Friday night and a confrontation erupted.
“They called him some severe names and then they told him to leave and they chased him off his porch around his house and beat him with brass knuckles and then shot him with his own gun,” Julie Wilson told the TV station.
Her phone number was not in service Tuesday, according to a recording that played when AP tried to call her. Another relative, Anita Wilson, did not immediately return calls to AP.
Crumpton said that while some of Wilson’s relatives said they consider the shooting a hate crime, the district attorney told him Mississippi’s hate-crime law could only apply if both the shooter and the victim are not of the same race. But Wilson and Daniels are both white.
The state hate-crimes law was enacted in 1994 but has seldom been used to prosecute cases.
Crumpton said a case against Daniels could be presented to the grand jury, probably in October.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Daniels has an attorney.
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