A burning cross, a Smith county man beaten and shot by a family member, and in critical condition. We are told this is much more than a family feud, and outraged family members are calling it a "hate crime." This is a WLBT news exclusive.
Craig Wilson's sister says Craig was brutally attacked by a relative for allowing his mixed race grandchildren to stay at his home over the weekend.
The family tells us his stepson, with his son, came to Wilson's property screaming racist remarks at the family. The stepson, Jeff Daniels, and Craig Wilson allegedly got into a heated argument over his grandchildren. The family claims they threatened him, then beat him before shooting Wilson in the stomach.
They classify the incident as a hate crime.
"Yes they called him some severe names and then they told him to leave and they chased him off his porch around his house and beat him with brass knuckles and shot him with his own gun," said Julie Wilson, the victim's sister.
The mother of the three children remains distraught that her father is fighting for his life. Laura Runnels said
"It's just really hard to deal with right now," said Runnels. Runnels is Wilson's daughter. She is white. The father of the children is black. He declined to go on camera and talk with us.
According to the family, the threats to keep the mixed race grandchildren away have been ongoing, and two weeks ago the family found a cross burning in their yard.
"He told everybody that he would die for his children and to him the grandchildren are like his and he almost paid the price this weekend," said Wilson.
Wilson says this is a hate crime, but the sheriff doesn't agree.
"We are because there was a cross burning previously, two weeks ago that police were called to but there was no incident report filed with Smith county and we still have the cross," added Wilson.
The Sheriff says Jeff Daniels has been released on $20-thousand dollars bond. Daniels was charged with aggravated assault. The Sheriff says this is not a "hate crime" under state law. The investigation is ongoing.
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