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Two Black teenagers were chased and shot at multiple times by a white father and son in a pickup truck for allegedly driving their ATVs onto the family’s land in rural Mississippi, according to authorities.
Wade Twiner, 48, and his son, Lane Twiner, 22, are charged with three counts of aggravated assault following the encounter, which occurred late last month, according to the Associated Press.
The two teens were allegedly operating their ATVs on a backroad near the Twiners’ property when the father and son began to follow them in their truck. While in pursuit, the Twiners are accused of firing a number of shots and ramming into one of the teenager’s ATVs. Authorities also seized a nine millimeter handgun from the scene.
No one was harmed in the Sept. 27 incident.
“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,” Sheriff Jacob Sheriff said, Mississippi television station WLOX reported.
The father and son told investigators that they own land on both sides of the roads where the teens were riding the ATVs, according to WLBT. In Mississippi, it’s illegal to drive such offroad vehicles on public roads; however that law isn’t rigorously enforced, the Associated Press reported.
The Yazoo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the possibility the incident was racially motivated.
“We’re still looking at some things on that to see if we can establish a hate crime or not,” the sheriff added, WLBT reported. "We’ve got to get with the DA and look at the statutes to say whether that would be a hate crime or not."
Authorities also acknowledged they were investigating a series of social media posts made by the family ahead of the incident, according to The Clarion Ledger. In July, one of the men posted a meme reading "Redneck Neighborhood Watch," and "You Loot We Shoot.” The image also contained the Confederate flag.
The FBI is also aware of the incident.
“If in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal civil rights violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate,” Brett Carr, an FBI spokesperson, told Oxygen.com.
Meanwhile, one of the teen’s mothers said the Twiners almost killed her son.
“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,” she said, according to WLOX.
The Twiners have since been released on bail, the Washington Post reported.
The incident bears some similarities to the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was allegedly gunned down by Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, while jogging in Georgia in February. The McMichaels, too, claimed they opened fire because they suspected Arbery was trespassing.
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