Marine, war veteran beaten in possible hate crime
(WMC) - A 32-year-old Marine and Iraq war veteran was attacked and beaten in what might be a hate crime.
Investigators say several men jumped Ralph Weems in a parking lot in West Point, Miss.
One man is in custody, but West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley says there were more people involved. His department is developing a list and trying to bring them in for questioning.
Associated Press reports that Weems' friend and fellow veteran David Knighten says the beating was racially charged.
Knighten says someone outside of a Waffle House told him politely that it was not a safe place for whites to be at the moment, because people inside were upset over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Knighten says Weems was inside arguing with some people. They both left and went to another restaurant.
A group of men followed them there. He says the men attacked both of them, shouting racial slurs during the attack.
Chief Brinkley says a hate crime carries an enhanced penalty, but added, "It's up to the Grand Jury to make this determination. All we do is process the evidence and turn the case over to the District Attorney, who in turn presents it to a Grand Jury. It's within their discretion to add the hate crime enhancement."
The case is still under investigation.