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Misunderstood hand signs trigger brawl

July 18, 2007

— The Associated Press

Raymond Keith McWain, 26, had just turned a corner in his car when he noticed a truck with three men alongside his car. The deaf man was communicating with the other two in the truck through sign language, police said.

McWain thought the sign language gestures were some sort of slight or “disrespect” toward him, police said. He made some gestures of his own and honked and cut in front of the truck before pulling into the pizza store. The men in the truck followed.

In the parking lot, McWain and the three men from the truck began pushing and shoving, police said. McWain’s cousin, Daniel Harris, 20, who works at the pizza store, came out and began beating the deaf man as the deaf man’s companions pummeled McWain.

Multiple shots were fired from at least one gun.

Police are looking into whether Harris pistol-whipped the deaf man. A shot might have gone off then, police spokesman Paul Honeman said.

The men from the truck left the parking lot.

When police arrived they found McWain lying in the parking lot bleeding heavily from his head and upper body, Honeman said. At first police thought he’d been shot, but it turned out his injuries were from being beaten and kicked. McWain was taken to a local hospital where he was listed in fair condition.

The deaf man also went to a hospital later that night for treatment.

Police found Harris crying, crouched near the front counter inside the pizza store, court documents said.

The only man arrested was Harris, who was charged with possession of methamphetamine. When police searched Harris they found several plastic baggies of meth, a glass pipe and $4,691 in his pockets, court documents said.

Harris’ bail was set at $15,000. According to a public database, he has no prior convictions in Alaska. The investigation into the fight and gunshots is ongoing.

http://www.adn.com/24hour/weird/story/3661216p-13027462c.html

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