A Black journalist says his son was in the car with him when a white man on horseback waved a lariat at them, cursed and charged toward their car after earlier blocking an East Texas road.
“It’s a threat I take seriously. And will treat as the terroristic act it was,” James Ragland said in a tweet August 5.
Ragland is a writer for The Dallas Morning News who also wrote for the Washington Post.
He said in social media posts detailing the incident August 4 that he was driving through his old neighborhood in Elysian Fields, Texas, with his 10-year-old son Judah and 12-year-old great-nephew when a man Ragland identified as Grant Williams threatened them.
The rural community is about 165 miles east of Dallas.
Ragland said in a Facebook post that he was en route to drop his great-nephew off at a relative’s home on Floyd Evans Road when Ragland noticed two adults and a child on horseback at about 5:30 p.m.
The child and one of the adults moved to the side of the road, but Williams, who Ragland later found out lives in the area, blocked the road, Ragland said.
“Judah got a bit nervous and asked what he was doing,” the journalist said in a Facebook post. “Mistakenly, I told him the guy probably was trying to keep the kid’s horse from being startled and so he was making sure we didn’t go fast or rev our engine.”
Ragland said he later learned that wasn’t the case when the man on horseback stopped in front of his car and “glared at us” in a faceoff like “a gunman in the Wild West.”
“Judah and his cousin grew more nervous, unsure what was happening” Ragland said on Facebook. “I’m perplexed, but not yet alarmed.”
Ragland said when the man guided his horse to the driver’s side and stopped, he continued staring the family down until Ragland rolled down his window and broke the silence by saying “nice horse.”
“He’s says, ‘What,’” Ragland recounted.
“‘Nice horse,’ I said again,” Ragland said.
He added that the man replied, “thank ya,” then blurted out: “These are Texas roads.”
Ragland said at that point, he asked the man what he said and Williams again said, “These are TEXAS roads.”
The father explained that he was from Texas. And when Williams asked about his California license plate, he explained that he was driving a rental car, Ragland said.
“And without missing a beat, the guy declared loudly again, ‘BUT THESE ARE TEXAS ROADS,’” Ragland said in his post. “‘What the efff does that mean?’ I ask. And the troll reached back like he was reaching for a gun.”
“I honestly wanted to get out of the car and pull him down off his high horse, but my kid and nephew were pleading for me to speed away,” Ragland said. “They were scared to death. And I can’t blame them.”
Ragland said he drove off, dropped his nephew off and talked to a few people in the neighborhood who told him the guy had similar experiences with other drivers in the past.
Ragland said he thought about involving the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office but decided instead to just drop it.
“Then the other shoe dropped,” he said.
Ragland said he saw the same man parked on his horse as he drove back from dropping off his nephew.
“He charges from his property on the north side and runs right out to our car, and for one frightening moment I thought he was going to dart in front of us,” Ragland said. “But as I sped up to avoid him, he pulled alongside our car and chased us for a mile while yelling and throwing the f… you sign initially before reaching for something on his right side.
“I thought it was a gun but couldn’t see clearly because my son was hysterically begging me to drive faster along the choppy, black-top road with this Angry White Dude on Horseback in full pursuit.”
Ragland told Atlanta Black Star that Williams also waved his rope at them in a threatening manner.
“My son was screaming in fear for me to get back in the car, so I left ASAP so he would not be further traumatized,” Ragland said.
He added that he snapped a few pictures on his cellphone when he got several hundred yards away from the guy.
“I calmed Judah down and told him I had to do that because we needed to report this incident to make sure this man never did this to anyone else,” Ragland said.
Since then, Ragland has been working to have Williams held accountable with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office.
The father asked in a tweet Thursday, “where are the good, decent people in charge” in Harrison County.
He said in another tweet about the incident that after he learned the sheriff’s office was investigating the incident he called Capt. Floyd Duncan Thursday and he “hung the phone up in my face today after accusing me of ‘harassing’” his department by posting about it on social media.
“He said, a day after telling me I did not need to return to Marshall, that I needed to come back to make a formal complaint,” Ragland said. “I am deciding when and how to do that as I work to get our kids in school this week. “
Harrison County Chief Deputy Brandon Fletcher said in a statement Monday to Atlanta Black Star that Duncan interviewed the accused man and he said he stopped Ragland to tell him to slow down.
“Captain Duncan concluded after talking with both complainant and actor that no threats of bodily injury or racial slurs were voiced from either complainant or actor,” Fletcher said in the statement. “There are no charges to be filed in this case due to stated offenses that occurred would have to be witnesses by a LE Officer.
“The issue of stopping cars for speeding or any other matters have been addressed.”
Ragland has said Williams lied to the sheriff’s office rather than apologizing to him.
“That this could happen in 2019 is no longer shocking,” Ragland said in a Facebook post. “That it happened in the rural area where I grew up, on a road where generations of my late maternal grandparents’ family and friends have lived for decades, only added insult to the injury.”