The viral sensation of the week involved a family from metro Atlanta visiting River Street, who claimed they’d been attacked for virtually no reason during an altercation which rapidly escalated.
Savannah law enforcement, tourism, and law enforcement officials pushed back against their account, however, going so far as to issue a statement while the investigation was still ongoing.
Jim Thomas and his brother-in-law Rob Gray went on Facebook to detail their account of the incident Saturday night, May 10.
Downtown Precinct detectives would like to interview three males and two females about the altercation which took place near Rousakis Plaza about 9:48 p.m.
"Videos being reviewed by detectives show two large groups of people, each including children, walking on River Street. When one group encountered eight members of an Atlanta family standing on the sidewalk, one male avoided contact by walking into River Street while a male and female worked their way through the family,” police say.
“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,” police continue.
“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.
The video does show a female with the second group trying to separate the parties and “pulling a female family member away by her hair. But detectives could find no sign of a 6-year-old or 13-year-old child being punched, as a member of the family announced in a Facebook posting.”
Police were on scene within 10 minutes of the first call, but the second group had left by then. The videos showed that members of both groups were carrying beverages and officers on scene “reported a heavy odor of alcohol.”
“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.”
Detectives are asking members of the second group, which appeared to be a family with children and an older couple, to come forward and provide their version of the altercation. 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.
• Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team responded to a west Savannah collision this past Wednesday, May 14 that left a pedestrian with serious injuries.
At approximately 1:56 p.m. SCMPD responded to an accident with injuries at Bay Street and Hudson Street.
According to investigators, the 42-year-old man stepped into the roadway from the north side of Bay Street. He was struck by a Cadillac CTS traveling west in the right lane of Bay Street. The driver of the Cadillac could not avoid the pedestrian.
The victim was transported to Memorial University Medical Center for treatment.