A Morristown man is in jail on a $15,000 bond after authorities said he made an unprovoked attack on a man of Indian descent in a Weigel’s parking lot.
He was allegedly overheard saying, “This is a Holy war.”
Timothy G. Simerly, 43, of North Henry Street, has been charged with aggravated assault.
According to an affidavit, both men were at the Weigel’s on South Davy Crocket Parkway on Wednesday.
Without provocation, Simerly attacked the man in the parking lot, authorities said, knocked him to the ground and punched him in the face repeatedly.
Authorities said Simerly also choked the man into unconsciousness.
Witnesses told authorities they heard Simerly say during the confrontation, “This is a Holy war.”
District Attorney General Dan Armstrong said Monday morning his office would review the case, but he was unsure if the attack would be upgraded to a hate crime.
There is a federal law to charge people under a hate crime, but he does not believe the state of Tennessee has a hate crime law.
“At this time, I don’t know any enhancement under Tennessee law to charge as a hate crime,” Armstrong said.
He said the current charges would be looked at if it goes before a grand jury.
“We’ll certainly make sure it will be charged appropriately,” he said.