WEST POINT, Miss. — West Point police said a man received life-threatening injuries in what they are investigating as an aggravated assault at a restaurant.
Ralph Weems IV, who was injured early Saturday, was in fair condition Sunday at North Mississippi Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Genie Causey said without elaborating.
A relative, Bradley Barnes of Madison, told The Associated Press by telephone on Sunday that his brother-in-law was in a medically induced coma following brain surgery. “They’re going to try and wake him up tomorrow and see what damage was done,” Barnes said, describing Weems as a 32-year-old former Marine who had served in Iraq.
David Knighten of West Point told AP earlier by phone that he and Weems had gone to a Waffle House early Saturday. He said a man waved him over outside the restaurant and told him politely that people were upset by the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and it wasn’t a safe place for whites. When he went in, he said, Weems was inside and was arguing with other men.
They left after an argument that brought police, Knighten said. He said he showed those officers his .45-caliber handgun and his concealed carry permit.
That was about 1 a.m., according to police, who did not give either man’s name in a press release posted by WCBI-TV.
On the way to Weems’ house, Knighten said, they went into a Huddle House restaurant with a nearly vacant parking lot.
However, he said, they apparently had been followed by more than 20 people.
Knighten, who said he had served with the Air Force in Afghanistan, said he came out of the restroom to find Weems surrounded. “I was trying to defuse the situation,” he said.
After some shoving, he said, the security guard told everyone to leave.
Knighten said some people blocked him from leaving with Weems. When he got out, he said, Weems was down and people were kicking him. Knighten said others attacked him, adding “I do remember racial slurs being yelled from the crowd.”
Knighten says he has broken bones in his face, a cut over his left eye and a blood clot in his right eye.
Police did not arrive until after the crowd had left, he said.
Police said they were called to the Huddle House about 2 a.m.
“It’s not clear whether or not all of the parties were involved in both incidents,” the police statement said.
Police Chief Tim Brinkley did not immediately return a call Sunday from The AP.
“This does not appear to be a hate crime,” he said in the press release. “We are investigating this as an aggravated assault. It’s very early in this investigation but thus far the evidence and statements suggest that a verbal altercation turned physical and somebody got hurt.”