Florence police make arrest in Wilson Park attack

Florence police make arrest in Wilson Park attack

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Police in Florence have made an arrest in the attack against a Shoals family as they left a Wilson Park event.

Isaiah Thornton is charged with third-degree assault and criminal mischief.

Kevin and Brandon Dawes were leaving the park June 5 when they said they were jumped.

During the physical altercation, Brandon's father, Kevin, was shocked by a Taser.

The two suffered various degrees of injuries; meanwhile, Kevin's wife Juli called for help from the family car, when someone broke out the vehicle's rear window.

Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said Thornton will not be charged with a hate crime by his department. In a statement released Tuesday, Tyler explained:

"Understand, there is no stand alone 'hate crime.' The Alabama statute covering hate crimes is a sentencing enhancement. This means the judge and prosecutors, at the time of sentencing, decide whether the crime was primarily motivated by the race of the victim. This is not a decision for the police or our investigator to make. What [the community is] asking for, to charge the offender with a 'felony hate crime,' is not an option under Alabama law."

Thornton, a resident of Florence, was arrested Tuesday. Chief Tyler said this is still an active investigation because others were involved in the attack.

There will be extra officers and security in place at future First Friday events, but says this incident should not deter anyone from going out downtown.

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