Native American shot in fight with White group
by Alyson Zepeda - Sept. 29, 2008 06:45 PM
The Arizona Republic
A Native American man was shot in the leg and two others were injured Sunday after several White males and females wearing "white pride" T-shirts attacked two of the men. A police bias crimes unit was investigating the case.
The two men, Native Americans ages 48 and 24, were walking home from a store near 48th Avenue and Thunderbird Road when they were confronted and assaulted by several White men and women about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Phoenix police said.
Relatives of the victims were nearby at a barbecue and heard them yelling for help. Two male relatives, 25 and 27, ran to intervene. The attackers retreated to a nearby house and one of the first victims, angry over the attack, followed to confront them, banging on the front door, authorities said.
One of the victim's relatives attempted to pull the man pounding on the door away when several shots were fired from inside the house and the 48-year-old man was hit in the leg, police said.
Officials are aware of at least three suspects were still conducting interviews Monday afternoon to identify others involved. John Merek, 21, was booked into jail on one count of aggravated assault.
The case has been forwarded to a Bias Crimes Unit within the Phoenix Police Department, which is trained to identify and investigate hate crimes.
A hate crime is a crime that is motivated by dislike of a race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability sexual orientation or gender.
In Arizona a person convicted of a hate crime may face an increased sentence of up to 10 years.