Witness: Juveniles in Jeep 'traumatized' Muslim family in horse-drawn carriage

Family night takes traumatic turn

MCKINNEY, Texas -- Shannon Cole knows it will be a long road ahead for her and her horses. She's been operating her Happy Trails Carriage Service for 20 years. She can barely get one of her horses, Jasper, out of his stall.

"He's definitely been traumatized by the incident," Cole said.

It happened last Friday night. Cole had agreed to give a Muslim family a carriage ride through historic McKinney. The women were wearing hijabs, and they were listening to Iraqi music on their phones during the ride.

Cole says three young men in a Jeep then terrorized her, the Muslim family, and her horses.

"I saw something I've never witnessed before in McKinney," said another neighbor, Marianne Lewis.

Cole's carriage service drives right through Marianne's historic neighborhood. She was watching a movie in her bedroom when she heard a loud, 'Boom!' Cole says the three men had lit a firework in the direction of her horses.

"All I could see was a fuse, and I just started saying 'Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!'" Cole said.

But before the firework, Cole said the young men were harassing them for more than three-tenths of a mile.

"They swerved the Jeep into my horses, and I literally had to pull them [horses] tight to stop," Cole said.

Cole said after each time, the jeep circled back. Shannon says four times they drove by, yelled and veered into her horses, missing them by inches.

Cole said one time the Jeep had accelerated and slammed on the brakes behind the carriage. The driver then honked the horn for 30 straight seconds.

"That's not boys being boys, that's demented. That's hatred," she said.

She says by the fifth time the Jeep came around, it woke up the neighborhood.

"There's this huge explosion and my whole bedroom lit up," said Lewis.

McKinney police are limited on details. Sgt. Jimmy Thomas says it's an open and active investigation and the case involves minors. Thomas did confirm to WFAA that three young men were stopped, cited, and released to their parents.

Thomas also said the three minors have a court date in the near future. Police said it could not release information surrounding what the minors were cited for.

Lewis said after the firework went off, she could barely see her street because it was covered in smoke. All she could see was a man carrying the women off the carriage one by one to the porch of a nearby home.

"It just keeps ringing in my head, how traumatized these people were," said Lewis.

The Muslim family from Iraq is too scared to talk. WFAA made several attempts to reach the family this week. Cole, who has contact with the family, said the family is fearful of being targeted once again.

"I believe this was a hate crime, personally," Cole said.

Police say there is nothing at this time that points to this being a hate crime, but the department is still investigating.

Shannon can now only focus on her horses who are traumatized. She doesn't know the next time she will return to her carriage business because of all the re-training that may need to happen.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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