DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) - A fight outside a Dickson County convenience store led to a brutal attack where a senior citizen's finger was bitten off.
The perpetrator, Dylan McKinney, admitted he attacked the senior and now the D.A. is investigating whether this altercation qualifies as a hate crime.
The fight took place Sunday outside Duke's Market in the shadow of the Charlotte, Tennessee courthouse.
From behind bars in the Dickson County Jail, the 26-year-old suspect told News 2 he had been drinking, but he denies being high on drugs. McKinney said he has a drug and alcohol problem, and bad things do happen when he drinks or takes drugs.
McKinney says the man put his finger in his mouth and he bit down.
“It sounds gruesome, but I don't regret biting a man's finger off when he stuck it in my mouth and tried to tear my jaw off,” said McKinney.
McKinney says he was waiting outside the convenience store for his fiancé, who was inside. McKinney says he was watching his baby who was in his vehicle.
He says he was wearing a hoodie with confederate symbolism
“Whenever he walks out of the store, I said ‘Hello’,” said McKinney.
According to McKinney, the 71-year-old black man takes issue with McKinney's Confederate jacket.
“He said ‘F you son of a B’ or something like that. There was no other reason to say that to me other than what I had on.”
The interaction quickly turned into a violent confrontation.
“My first thought, maybe he has a gun in there, and so I did everything I could to make sure he couldn't get to anything inside his truck. As far as the confrontation, I guess you would say, maybe I started that,” said McKinney.
At one point, McKinney bit part of the senior citizen's finger off.
“We were fighting, I didn't have time to put his finger in my mouth and eat it, I'm not a cannibal or anything like that.”
McKinney was so irate, Dickson deputies had to taze him twice to take him into custody.
Denise Knowles doesn't want to identify her 71-year-old father, but she shares pictures of his wounds to help tell the story of the brutality of the attack on her father, a Vietnam veteran.
“All of the scars will heal, the black eye, the stitches in his face, even his finger will heal, my concern is what is inside.”
Denise met her father at Vanderbilt. He was smiling and even joking. He told his eldest daughter what happened.
“He was at the counter and said someone was staring at him. And this guy was staring at him. And the guy was standing between my dad and my dad's truck, so my dad had to walk around him, and my dad said words were passed between them. I don't know who said what but the words ‘F you B’ was passed.”
When asked if it is possible that her father said that to McKinney, Knowles says, "It is possible. This man is standing in the pathway to my dad getting to his truck. My dad said he reached for his door handle and by this time the guy grabbed him and slammed him to the ground. So, he apparently was punching my father, and all he knew to do was cover his head which is why his finger got in his mouth,” said Knowles. “He bit the tip of my father's finger off. That is not alcohol. That is out of control rage. He said he reached for this guy's eye and it didn't faze this guy. Then he stomps my dad, stomps my father and a man drove up, and he pushed the guy off my father, and my dad got in his truck and called 911."
Knowles says she believes that the attack on her father was racially motivated.
"What else do they have in common? What else could it be beside hate?”
News 2 asked Dylan how he would respond if people asked him if he attacked the man because he is black.
"I would say they are ignorant,” said McKinney.
Denise Knowles says her father is a Vietnam vet, a father of 4, and a good man who everyone calls "pops"
"I'm very sorry. It is my responsibility not to do alcohol and drugs," said McKinney.
The DA is considering hate crime charges against McKinney, who has no previous history of violence.
When asked if this is a hate crime, McKinney responded.
"Absolutely not. I am not affiliated with anything like that. It is not a hate crime."
Dylan McKinney is in the jail under $62,000 bond.
He is charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and aggravated assault.
Up to this point, McKinney has only driving and DUI offenses, nothing violent.
Denise Knowles still believes it is the only motivation.
“What else is it? He is 26. My dad is 71. His tags are Kentucky, my dad is born and raised in Charlotte, Tennessee. What else do they have in common? What else could it be beside hate?"
News 2 is tracking crime where you live with CrimeTracker reports. Click here for more coverage.
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