On Friday, Wade Oscar Twiner, 49, and his son Lane Irvine Twiner, 23, were sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted in a hate-crime case in which the pair chased and shot at two Black teenagers riding all-terrain vehicles last September.
According to the Associated Press, both father and son were convicted of two counts of simple assault and one count of malicious mischief each. The district attorney said every assault charge was prosecuted as a hate crime under Mississippi law, which required stricter penalties for crimes motivated by “race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin or gender”.
The men were arrested by Warren County sheriff’s deputies for following the two Black teenagers riding all-terrain vehicles down the street. The Twiners allegedly hit one of the teen’s ATVs with their pickup truck while shooting at the teens from both the driver’s side and the roof of their four-wheeler, Newsweek reports. The two teens were not injured and a 9mm handgun was recovered that night.
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.
According to AP, the Mississippi law that makes ATVs illegal is not regularly enforced. The Yazoo County Sheriff Jake Sheriff says that investigators found social media posts from one of the Twiners using the phrase “Redneck Neighborhood Watch” and a photo of a Confederate flag. The sheriff also said that other people were riding ATVs near the Twiners’ home that day but they only chased the two Black teenagers.