(MOBILE, Ala.) - Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said he's called on federal agencies Wednesday to investigate a weekend assault on Delmar Drive for possible racial implications.
Mobile Police arrested 44-year-old Terry Rawls on the charge of first degree assault against Matthew Owens. Officials said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that Rawls is one of three suspects who will be charged in the case, but more arrests are possible as the investigation continues.
Officials would not say if Matthew Owens will face charges in the case.
"This type of violence, under no circumstances, will be tolerated in Mobile," Mayor Jones said.
Mayor Sam Jones said news reports prompted his calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate the case.
"It's been reported in the media that this is in conjunction with something that happened in Sanford, Florida," Jones said.
During what police called a fight between neighbors Saturday, witnesses said it turned into racial violence. Witnesses said racial slurs were thrown around, and Florida Teen Trayvon Martin's name was used during the fight. Mobile Police Investigators said there is not evidence pointing to a hate crime so far. Officials said a history of violence between Rawls and Owens is one determining factor.
"We don't have that kind of information that would tell us this stemmed from some hate crime that started somewhere else," Jones said, "or even one that started here that was strictly based on race.
"If that's something that happened, and they think they have the evidence to charge, let them charge. If it didn't happen, we want them to make that determination."
Mayor Jones said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich will determine the extent of the charges against Rawls, and the other two suspects directly related to the assault of Mr. Owens.
Rich said a parallel investigation is not uncommon as a hate crime is a federal offense.
"It is prudent, and it is the right thing to do to, once the state charges are filed, have the feds look at it," Rich said.
The district attorney said her office will look at all the facts related to the assault charge against 44-year-old Terry Rawls, and whether more charges will come as a result of the neighborhood feud.
"This is not something that just occurred in the last week," Rich said. "This is something that's been going on for years.
"We have already filed state charges against the defendant, and we fully intend to prosecute him in state court."
Rich said police are in the process of identifying the rest of the suspects involved in the assault on Owens. According to Mobile County Sheriff's Department records, both Owens and Terry Rawls have extensive criminal histories.