LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A local family believes their loved one was stabbed last Thursday because of his race. However, Lafayette police said they have no reason to believe that's the case.
"Justice for Tay Tay," said Michael Rimschneider, the cousin of the victim.
Eighteen-year-old Maurice "Tay Tay" Greer gathered with family at the Marathon gas station on Ferry Street to pray.
"Praying for justice, praying that God will heal his injury," said Greer's aunt, Ann Barnswell, who spoke on behalf of the family.
Greer is recovering after being stabbed in the neck. He was in critical condition at one point and had to go through surgery. According to prosecutors, he was riding his bike in the alley behind the gas station when David Engstrom attacked him.
"I was crushed by that," said Rimschneider. "I feel bad because he came to my house, I wasn't there so he left. And on his way back, that's when it happened."
Greer recently graduated from high school and moved to the area to be with family.
"We want justice to be done, the police did get him (Engstrom) at the scene," said Barnswell. "He's incarcerated. They are calling it a battery, we are calling it attempted murder."
Engstrom is facing charges of aggravated battery, battery by means of a deadly weapon, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and criminal recklessness. He is being held on a $30,000 bond, which the family would like to see increased. The family and the local NAACP also believe this was racially motivated. Engstrom pictured right, photo provided by the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office.
"Through the comments of the young man, Tay Tay, the man (Engstrom) stated to him something happened with a friend of his some years ago and he was getting revenge to any N-word that came before him," said Sadie Harper Scott, President of the local NAACP chapter.
Lafayette police are still investigating this incident. Sgt. Ian O'Shields with LPD said they don't have any reason to believe this was a racist act.
"It was a random act, we don't believe it was racially motivated whatsoever," he said. "Neither knew each other and no words were exchanged."
LPD does believe a mental health illness may be behind Engstrom's actions.
"From my knowledge, we have not been contacted nor have we reached out to the NAACP about this case because the investigation has shown that it is not racially motivated whatsoever," he said.
Greer is working to move on with the strength of his loved ones around him.
"He's very afraid right now, but we don't want him to be because we want him to believe and to see that justice is being done," said Barnswell.
Engstrom's first pretrial conference is set for October 16th and his jurty trial is currently set for November 3rd, however that date will likely change.