An Indiana man who was shot while flying a Confederate flag in a predominantly black South Bend neighborhood is not a racist, his friend wants the world to know.
The South Bend Tribune's Erin Blasko reports that Cally Baker, a friend of the victim, insisted that "I've never known him to use any racial slurs."
"Unless someone provoked him," she added, "I can't imagine him just blurting out the N-word."
According to witnesses, the victim drove his white SUV into the parking lot of a convenience store in a largely black neighborhood. Baker claims that the Confederate battle flag flying from it also "has a military emblem on it," and as the 28-year-old is an Army veteran, "he was proud more or less because of the military aspect of it."
A group of black men at the convenience store started shouting what Baker called "white racial slurs" at the victim and "provoking him about the flag," which compelled him to pull a machete from the back of his vehicle.
"He had absolutely no weapon on him," Baker said, "except the machete."
The group of black men didn't know that, and were apparently relieved when the victim returned to his truck and began to pull away. However, witnesses said that he suddenly stopped and started backing into the group of men, at which point shots were fired.
The victim was hit once in the cheek, and again in the back. He is expected to make a complete recovery. As for Baker, she said "the whole situation is kind of crazy," and that "I just don't want it to become a huge racial thing."
Police are still searching for the shooter.