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William Marcus Wilson

Source: Bulloch County Sheriff / Bulloch County Sheriff

The parents of a Georgia student who was accused of fatally shooting a teen who was part of a racist mob chasing him and his girlfriend said they believe they both would have been killed had he not defended them.

William Marcus Wilson was leaving a Taco Bell restaurant with his girlfriend, who is white, in Statesboro at around 12:30 a.m. last month when men in trucks began following the pair, Francys Johnson, the family’s attorney, said.

The men in the truck menaced the couple, screamed racial slurs, and tried to run them off the road. The truck’s occupants waved their hands out of the window and at one point struck Wilson’s car with an object, possibly the truck. They played the theme music from “The Purge,” a movie about one night every year where citizens can commit violence without consequences.

A terrified Wilson, 21, used his gun – which he carried legally – to fire a warning shot at the men, but fatally struck Haley Hutchinson, 17, according to an online petition.

Wilson was charged with one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault, and his parents said although their son and his girlfriend told police their side of the story, they believe law enforcement had made their minds up almost immediately that Wilson was the culprit.

“Marc, like our other children, were all brought up to be law-abiding citizens,” Wilson’s father, Pat said at a virtual press conference Monday. “We taught them to trust in law enforcement and other legal establishments. However today, I believe that that trust has been broken.”

Pat Wilson’s wife, Amanda – who is white – said through tears that they have faith in God and their legal team, and believe the facts of the case will show that their son is no murderer.

“Marc is a loving and caring person, and he has been painted, and made to look, like somebody he’s not,” she said. “He felt scared and he reacted the way he felt that he had to in order to save his life and the person who was in the car with him.”

Wilson could be shielded by the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law – where a person is allowed to use deadly force when they believe their life is threatened – and test whether it is equally applicable in cases where African-Americans use lethal force, Johnson said.

“Marc Wilson and his girlfriend were in sheer terror that night,” Johnson said. “They expressed that immediately to law enforcement when they were interviewed, they’ve expressed that throughout. We think the evidence will show is that what Marc confronted that night was a black man’s worst nightmare: a truckload of possibly armed, belligerent racists tracking you down.”

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