SHOCK: Ex-Marine beaten at Waffle House

Ralph Weems IV, a former Marine, was airlifted to a Mississippi hospital where he underwent surgery after suffering 'life-threatening' injuries sustained in an altercation that eyewitnesses say may have been racially motivated.

A 32-year-old man was beaten at a West Point, Mississippi, Waffle House over the weekend.

Ralph Weems IV, a former Marine, was airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo early Saturday following an assault, according to a West Point Police Department press release.

Police described the injuries as “life-threatening.”

Weems, a veteran of the Iraq War, underwent surgery over the weekend, according to family members speaking to the Associated Press.

David Knighten, who was with Weems the night he was attacked, said he was told on his way into the restaurant that people inside “were upset by the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and it wasn't a safe place for whites,” according to the Associated Press.

Eyewitnesses to the attack described the aggressors as a group of black males, according to police. Weems is white.

West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said the department is currently investigating the crime as an aggravated assault.

“This does not appear to be a hate crime," Brinkley said. "It’s very early in this investigation but thus far the evidence and statements suggest that a verbal altercation turned physical and somebody got hurt.”

One suspect, 22-year-old Courtez McMillian, was taken into police custody Monday and is being held at a detention center in Clay County, according to reports.

Knighten was also injured in the fight, which some reports say included as many as 20 people.

“All my injuries were minor fractures and lacerations,” he said on Facebook, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “I just wish I could have reached him sooner. Please keep your thoughts and prayers on Ralph.”

Weems' condition was listed as fair following brain surgery.

“They’re going to try and wake [Weems] up tomorrow and see what damage was done,” said one family member, according to The Times-Picayune.

Read the original AP story here.

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