ATLANTA - Update from Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department on May 13: Police say they are searching for the second family involved in an altercation on River Street Saturday night, but it does not appear a case of a random beating.
Police said surveillance footage shows two large groups, each including children, walking along the street. When the second group encountered an Atlanta family of 8, one member walked onto the street to avoid the group, but a man and a woman worked their way through the group on the sidewalk.
"Just after that male walked through the cluster of family members, he was confronted by one or two males in the family and a verbal altercation ensued. The male who had walked around the family pulled the other male away and they left. But one of the males in the Atlanta family continued to talk to him. He broke free from the male who was leading him away and ran back into the crowd where a fight ensued, with members of both groups trying to break it up.
Police said the video shows a woman pulling another woman's hair, but it shows no evidence that any child was hit, as the Atlanta family claimed on Tuesday.
Police said officers arrived within 10 minutes of being called and reported a heavy odor of alcohol among the Atlanta family. Video shows members of both groups holding drinks.
“We certainly understand the frustration of a family who came to Savannah for an enjoyable weekend and ended up with injuries from an unpleasant situation,” said Police Chief Julie Tolbert. “But preliminary investigations show this was not a random act. We will continue to determine all the facts as we move forward.”
Police are asking members of the second group to come forward to provide their version of events.
One male was wearing a yellow shirt, the other a red shirt and later took it off and was wearing a white tank top. A younger female was wearing a white skirt or shorts and a beige or yellow top. The elder male was wearing all white and a white hat. They are asked to contact Downtown Precinct detectives via the SCMPD non-emergency number 912-651-6500.
Original story from May 12: A metro Atlanta family was enjoying their Mother’s Day weekend in Savannah when it was abruptly interrupted.
Rob Gray and his brother-in-law said they were walking down River Street enjoying the sights with their families when they were confronted by a man. Then, a mob attacked them.
“I took a punch to my eye and cracked my orbital,” said Gray.
“I was grabbed by the back of my head at a full run and he smashed my head into the car and I hit the ground,” said Jim Thomas. "This was a violent, malicious attack on a family of eight people."
Thomas says the attackers went after his wife as well.
"There was a man holding her by the nape of her neck, with her hair and dragging her," said Thomas.
And even his daughter was attacked.
"My 6-year-old daughter was punched in the stomach by an adult," he said.
The men say they didn’t see an officer for more than 20 minutes after the attack.
"I don't want this to happen to any other family. They need a stronger police presence. Period," Gray said.
Channel 2 Action News reached out to the Savannah Police department and a spokesperson said that they’re going through surveillance camera video of the attack and that they’re also looking at when the first 911 call was made to assess the response time.
"It's devastating. My family the whole way back was, Daddy we thought you were going to die. We knew they were going to kill you," Thomas said.