A family grieving the loss of a loved one was assaulted in Maury County while on the phone praying with their pastor.
The assault happened on the night of Thursday, November 21 on Highway 7, a short distance from the Maury County Sheriff's Department in Columbia.
The 32-year-old victim, his mother, his wife and the couple's two children, ages 6 and 10, had just left a nearby funeral home where a visitation was held for his father who passed away just days earlier.
He told News 2 he was talking to his pastor who would be conducting the eulogy at his father's funeral. He knew there was a dead cell phone zone ahead so he told his wife to pull over.
While they were stopped, a man, later identified as Jacob Tankersley, crossed the highway and told them they couldn't park there.
"We were in the middle of praying. I guess we were stopped there for like two or three minutes. My father died Tuesday. This was a Thursday and it honestly felt like a dream," the victim told News 2 by phone.
The victim said his wife first told Tankersley they weren't moving and then, after hanging up the phone with his pastor, he stepped of their vehicle to talk to him.
He says his intention was to let the man know why the family had pulled over.
"I am actually yelling out while walking across the street, 'Hey look, the reason we're parked over there is we're coming back from the funeral home.' I ended up getting sucker punched. I'm like, ‘Is this seriously happening?'" the man recalled.
The victim's 64-year-old mother, who exited the vehicle to aid her son, was also assaulted by a woman detectives identified as Amanda White.
"I didn't even know my mother had come across the road. I guess her sweater had got torn off. I said, 'Momma?' That kind of took it to a whole new level," the victim said.
A Good Samaritan who stopped to call 911 was also attacked.
"He said, 'I wasn't going to let them just beat up a woman,' so he says he goes over there to get them off of her when this male subject punches him in the side of the face," Det. Roscoe Voss with the Maury County Sheriff's Department explained.
The man suffered a black eye and broken nose during the assault. His mother and the Good Samaritan weren't seriously injured.
He told News 2, "I'm fine, this is actually a small hindrance compared to the whole grieving over my father. I'm a Christian. These past few weeks have definitely been a test. I know this is for a reason. God doesn't play with things like this."
"People were in distress over the loss of a loved one, trying to find some comfort with their preacher and praying and we have some people violating their rights. It's just unacceptable," Maury County Sheriff Enoch George told News 2.
At the time of the assault, police said both Tankersley and White were on probation for prior felonies.
After News 2 first aired the story, White surrendered at the Maury County jail and was charged with one count of simple assault. She has since been released on bond.
By phone Tuesday night she told News 2 that she never hit the woman.
"I didn't hit [anyone]," White said. "I was not involved in the fight at all. This has taken a toll on my life. I have changed my life since got out of the penitentiary. They are portraying me as something I am not."
Tankersley is still at large. He faces two counts of simple assault.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call Maury County authorities at 931-380-5733.