Former Maryville High School track coach Mac Pickle said an assault that caused his bi-racial son to be hospitalized with a brain injury was racially motivated. The incident is under investigation by the Blount County Sheriff’s office, and Pickle is asking those who are angry and concerned for his son Kyle to not retaliate and let the Blount County Sheriff’s office do their job.
Kyle Pickle, 21, was injured around 1:30 a.m. on June 25 during a fight. Friends took him to a friend’s home after he was beaten, but then drove him to Blount Memorial Hospital, where Rural/Metro Ambulance personnel transported him to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. On Sunday morning, Kyle underwent emergency surgery to remove a hematoma on the brain, Mac Pickle said.
Mac Pickle said his son has now been released from the hospital and is resting at the family’s home in Morristown.
Mac Pickle said no one alerted authorities about the incident until after it occurred. Sheriff James Berrong said Detective Shanon Carswell is investigating the case.
“No arrests have been made at this time,” Berrong said. “We were notified it occurred around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. We’re looking at all angles, and nothing has been ruled out.”
Mac Pickle said his son’s former roommate, an African-American, told Kyle he was going to Eagleton ball fields to confront some men who had threatened him. Kyle went with the former roommate and three white male friends to the ball field.
“He convinced Kyle he had been racially harassed and taunted by some people and said he was going to fight this one guy. He asked Kyle to come watch,” Mac Pickle said. “Kyle went over to make sure nothing else happened. When they got there, at least three guys with baseball bats were there. Kyle said the next thing he knew, there was a large man coming after him because Kyle’s former roommate ran.
“They beat him, got him on the ground and kicked him,” Mac Pickle said.
Mac Pickle said he was told that while this was going on, others who were with the attacker held the three white male friends against a fence.
“There was going to be a beat-down, and I guess when it wasn’t Kyle’s former roommate, it wound up being Kyle,” he said.
After the incident, Mac Pickle said his son was taken to the friend’s home in Eagleton where he was staying, and he took a shower. In a short while, the pain was such that Kyle’s friends took him to the hospital.
Mac Pickle said the sheriff’s office notified him that his son was at the hospital and had been beaten at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday.
“It threw me for a loop,” Mac Pickle said. “When I saw him, he was really, really scared, and I was scared.”
Mac Pickle said doctors were preparing to take him in for emergency brain surgery when he arrived at the hospital.
“He came out of surgery in under two hours,” Mac Pickle said. “They went in through a cranial window, relieved the hemotoma and stapled him with 18 staples. We were able to see him that afternoon in the Intensive Care Unit.”
Mac Pickle said his son was released Tuesday and went home with him to Morristown.
“He got hit twice in the head with a baseball bat,” Mac Pickle said. “He got hit once in the back with a two-by-four with nails in it. His back had the impression of the nails on it..”
Mac Pickle said he is convinced this was a hate crime because of what Kyle told his faher the men said.
“They said, ‘We’re going to kill a (edited slur) tonight and hang you from a tree.’ I was surprised at the level of hate and violence,” Mac Pickle said. “This is not the first time hateful things have happened to my family because of my children.”
Mac Pickle said he is encouraging his son’s friends not to retaliate and to trust the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to do their jobs.
“The sheriff’s office has committed to bringing those people to justice who hurt Kyle. We told his friends that if they retaliate, it screws things up for Kyle and the people who need to be punished,” Mac Pickle said. “Kyle has been calling his friends and saying, ‘Let it go.’”
Mac Pickle said he and his family are grateful to everyone for their prayers and support.
“I am astonished and amazed at the power of God to heal,” he said. “Kyle is a very fortunate individual to have God smile on him and heal him like that.”