2 White Men Accused of Chasing Down, Shooting at Black Teens Riding ATVs

Authorities in Mississippi arrested a father and son after they were accused of chasing down and shooting at two Black teenagers who were riding ATVs.

Wade Twiner, 48, and his 22-year-old son Lane were arrested Sunday by Warren County sheriff's deputies on three counts of aggravated assault each, according to inmate records. If convicted of the felony crime, they could both face up to 20 years in prison, according to state law.

One of the teenagers spoke to WLBT Monday about the alleged incident, describing how the two teens were riding their ATVs down the winding hills of Judkins Road in Yazoo County, a road about 50 miles north of Jackson that's used regularly by people on ATVs, horses and buggies.

The teen described how he could still hear the gunshots and feel the moment the Twiners' truck allegedly hit his ATV. At one point, the teen said he could see a man shooting at him from the driver's side and the other shooting at him across the truck's roof from the passenger side.

Yazoo County Sheriff Jacob Sheriff confirmed the teen's account, telling WLBT: "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."

The Twiners reportedly told authorities that they owned land on both sides of Judkins Road and paid taxes, and therefore shouldn't have to deal with people riding ATVs on the road because it's against the law, Sheriff said.

According to Mississippi state law, off-road vehicles including ATVs are not permitted on public roads or highways. The statute, however, carries no penalty for those who are caught doing so, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

The attack might've made more sense if the teens had been trespassing, but they were on the road and were not close to the Twiners' property, one of the teenagers said. His mother spoke to WLBT Monday, saying that the incident is weighing heavily on the entire family.

"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.

Louisville Protests Black Lives Matter
Demonstrators protesting the lack of criminal charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, march along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California on September 24, 2020 on the second night of protests. Authorities in Mississippi arrested a father and son on September 27 after they were accused of chasing down and shooting at two Black teenagers who were riding ATVs. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty

The Twiners are white and both the teenagers are Black. No other person riding an ATV was assaulted that day, and the teens were the only Black people on the road at the time of the alleged attack, Sheriff said.

"We're still looking at some things on that to see if we can establish a hate crime or not," he told WLBT. "We've got to get with the [district attorney] and look at the statutes to say whether that would be a hate crime or not."

According to Mississippi state law, felonies or misdemeanors can be subject to enhanced penalties if the crime is determined to be committed because of the "actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin or gender of the victim."

The Twiners were booked at the Yazoo County Regional Correctional Facility. Both men had their bond set at $70,000 and were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Newsweek contacted the sheriff's department for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.