In a case reminiscent of the armed vigilante father and son who chased Ahmaud Arbery, a Black delivery driver says two white men pursued him as he was doing his job in a Mississippi neighborhood late last month, and that one of the men fired several shots at his van.
D'Monterrio Gibson was delivering packages for FedEx in Brookhaven, a small city about 55 miles south of Jackson, at about 7 p.m. on Jan. 24 when, following a drop-off, he noticed a white pickup truck was driving toward him, honking its horn, according to NBC News. Then, after driving past a few more houses, Gibson said he saw an armed man in the road pointing a gun at him, mouthing “Stop.”
“I shake my head no, I hide behind the steering wheel, and I swerve around him as well,” Gibson, 24, told the Mississippi Free Press of the incident. “As I swerve around him, he starts firing shots into my vehicle.”
The next day, when Gibson filed a police report alongside his manager at the Brookhaven Police Department, his boss noted there were at least two bullet holes in the van he’d been in, and that three packages inside the vehicle also had bullet holes in them, according to NBC News.
The case bears remarkable similarities to Arbery’s murder, which happened almost exactly two years prior to Gibson escaping what he believes could have been a deadly encounter, according to CNN.
Gibson, like Arbery, was allegedly pursued in a residential neighborhood in the Deep South, potentially because he was considered “suspicious.” And the two men who’ve been charged—Brandon and Gregory Case—are a father and son, just like Travis and Gregory McMichael, who murdered Arbery in February 2020. Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery at the tail-end of a pursuit that later made national news and contributed to a widespread reckoning on racial violence. Travis, along with his father, was sentenced to life in prison for the killing in January.
“At first, I was kind of reluctant about speaking up,” Gibson said in a press conference this week. “But then I realized it was bigger than me. Because once they started bringing it to my attention, I thought about all the people who ain’t here to speak for themself.”
Brandon Case, who allegedly pointed the gun at Gibson, has since been charged with feloniously attempting to cause bodily injury with a firearm by shooting at an occupied vehicle, according to CNN. Gregory Case, who was allegedly driving the pickup truck that chased Gibson, was charged with unlawfully and feloniously conspiring with his son to commit aggravated assault by attempting to cause bodily injury, CNN reported.
Both men were booked into a local jail on Feb. 1, a week after the incident, and both bonded out the same day, according to CNN.
Gibson’s attorney, Carlos E. Moore, said in a statement to CNN that the men should have been arrested—and their charges should be upgraded to attempted murder.
“If the roles were reversed, and he'd done this to them, he would have been immediately arrested for attempted murder and gone to jail that same night,” Moore told CNN. “He wouldn't have been allowed to wait a week to turn himself in."
It was unclear if either man had an attorney. A working number was not available for Gregory Case, while a phone number listed as belonging to Brandon Case did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gibson was in his FedEx uniform but driving a rented Hertz van at the time of the incident, according to NBC News. After Gibson swerved to get past Brandon Case, he spoke with his manager and was told to return to his FedEx station—but was chased all the way to an interstate by the pickup truck. He called police shortly after, at which point he said a dispatcher told him the police had gotten a call about a suspicious person at an address on the road where he’d just been, NBC News reported, though it has not yet been confirmed whether Brandon or Gregory Case made that call.
Gibson told CNN that while filing his police report in person the following day, the officers he spoke with did not take him seriously: One incorrectly repeated his statement back to him multiple times, while another asked Gibson if he’d done anything to make himself seem suspicious in an attempt to play “Devil’s advocate.”
The Brookhaven Police Department did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment, and VICE News wasn’t able to view the police report at the time of publishing. However, Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins told CNN that the Cases weren’t arrested for eight days because investigations take time, and that race did not play into how the investigation was handled. Collins, who is Black, also told CNN he was hurt by people “vilifying” the department. FedEx is also receiving heat from Gibson’s attorney. In a press conference this week, Moore said that Gibson had to return to his route after he was shot at, which caused him anxiety. Gibson went on unpaid leave on Feb. 2, according to CNN, but the outlet also reported that FedEx is voluntarily paying for Gibson’s therapy.
“FedEx takes situations of this nature very seriously, and we are shocked by this criminal act against our team member, D’Monterrio Gibson,” the company said in a statement. “The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we remain focused on his wellbeing. We will continue to support Mr. Gibson as we cooperate with investigating authorities.”
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