FAYETTE COUNTY, Tenn. — The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man who they say stabbed a stranger at a gas station on Tuesday.
Officers say the incident happened around 3:00 p.m. at Longtown Shell gas station located on Highway 59.
The man’s family believes it may have been a hate crime.
R.L. Owens, 66, was leaving the store when the suspect entered the gas station and stabbed the victim with a knife, according to police. One customer, a U.S. Marine Corps, provided first aid to the victim.
“He was walking out the store,” said Owens’ niece, Stacey Whitley. “He was holding the door for the guy for him, to come in, and he just started stabbing him.”
Owens, known for his sense of humor and love of his family, was stabbed in his leg, stomach, and forehead by a man he didn’t know.
Whitley said after the stabbing, the man dropped the knife, got in his car and left. Witnesses say he was speaking another language and took off in a grey Chevrolet Sonic.
“We were just left to believe it was a hate crime,” Whitley said. “Police say it could possibly be a white supremacist initiation, just the way it happened.”
But a 20-year-old member of the U.S. Marines, who also just happened to be at the store at the right time and in the right place, may have saved Owens’ life.
“We’re so thankful for him, that he was able to render medical assistance until the paramedics got there. He saw the whole thing happen and was able to give a statement to the police,’ Whitley said.
Owens was taken to the Regional One Medical Center in Memphis where he underwent surgery.
“We were able to hear his voice last night, too and he’s been talking today,” his niece said.
The family hopes someone will see pictures of the suspect and come forward with information,
“I would love to see him in jail, love to see him off the street,” Whitley said. “He’s clearly a thug. You know the world is not safe with people like him out here in the street.”
If you have any information about this incident, you are urged to call the Sherriff’s Office at (901)-465-3456.