Two Native American men were allegedly assaulted by white supremacists as they walked home shortly after midnight on September 28, 2008, in Phoenix.
According to authorities, several white men and women wearing "white pride" t-shirts confronted the two men as they walked home from a nearby store. The victims, aged 48 and 24, allege that the attackers stated that they were "taking back the neighborhood," after which point they purportedly assaulted them. Gunfire erupted and one of the Native American men was shot in the leg.
The Bias Crimes Unit of the Phoenix Police Department is investigating the case as a possible hate crime.
Phoenix Police arrested Jason Carl Merk, 21, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A hate crime enhancement may be forthcoming depending upon the County Attorney's findings.
In Arizona, a hate crime conviction can increase a sentence by up to ten years.
Law enforcement officials believe that a number of other suspects may have been involved, and that there may be a link to a local white supremacist group. The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are expected.