A white man driving in South Bend, Indiana, was shot last Thursday while displaying a Confederate flag on his SUV and waving a machete in a predominantly black neighborhood. Afterward, a friend of the victim, who was expected to make a full recovery, insisted that the man was not a racist and was not intentionally provoking any violence.
The 28-year-old driver, who has not been identified, also was uttering racial slurs during the episode outside a convenience store before a verbal confrontation ensued, witnesses told the South Bend Tribune. As people shouted for him to leave, he brandished a machete and, after starting to drive off, reversed his white Ford Explorer into the crowd, causing a young man to fire several gunshots into the vehicle, eyewitnesses said.
Cally Baker, a friend of the man who was shot, told the South Bend Tribune that he was not a racist and that she did not "want it to become a huge racial thing," according to Salon. "Unless someone provoked him," Baker told the paper, "I can't imagine him just blurting out the N-word," adding that she has "never known him to use any racial slurs." The Confederate flag flying from his SUV "has a military emblem on it," Baker said, explaining that the war veteran was proud of the flag for its Civil War military associations.
Baker said the man pulled the machete from his vehicle after a group of black men shouted "white racial slurs" at him at the convenience store and harassed him about the flag, according to Salon. "He had absolutely no weapon on him," Baker said, "except the machete."
Jessie Chambers, a worker at the J&J convenience store where the confrontation took place, told the Tribune that the man stopped his vehicle in front of the store and began yelling racial slurs at a group of black people outside. After driving away once he was shot, he exited his vehicle several blocks away, conscious and still standing. He was hit twice, on his cheek and in his upper back, reported the South Bend Tribune, and the shooter has not yet been found.