Attorney: 2 arrested in attack with rifle at Bessemer City park were 'victims'

BESSEMER CITY, N.C. — Dequan McMiller and Michael Meeks III turned themselves in a day after police released the video of an attack on the basketball courts at a Bessemer City park.

In the video, McMiller assaulted a man from behind. He hit the man in the head with an assault rifle.

After the man was wrestled to the ground, Meeks punched him.

Police said Wednesday morning that they arrested McMiller, 21, and Meeks, 21, for their involvement in the attacks.

Both men are charged with malicious secret assault and felony conspiracy.

(Click PLAY to watch surveillance video)

But in court on Wednesday, an attorney said the McMiller and Meeks were the victims who took matters into their own hands.

"There was some anger and they probably expressed that anger in now a regretful way,” defense attorney Larry Hoyle said.

Hoyle said that before the fight at the park, both suspects had been victimized by the man, claiming he attempted to rob Meeks and his young son at gunpoint.

"(He) not only threatened to kill Mr. Meeks, but threatened to kill his three year old son,” Hoyle said.

[PAST COVERAGE: Man with assault rifle involved in attack at Bessemer City park, police say]

Hoyle said the alleged victim had also broken into McMiller's mother's home, and posed with her stolen stuff on social media.

"Trying to take care of their family and make sure they are protected and that's what they were doing,” said Lashaura McMiller, Dequan’s mother.

Regardless, city officials said someone could have been killed.

(Michael Meeks III, Dequan McMiller)

Police said McMiller was in possession of an Anderson AM-15 rifle with a high-capacity drum magazine. He was driving a black Infiniti G37 with North Carolina license plate EJV-8893, according to authorities.

"It scared me, I ain't going to lie about it,” said City Councilman Dan Boling.

The police chief said McMiller tried to shoot the gun, but the clip fell out.

Parks and Rec. director Jo-D Franklin was at the Bessemer City park with about 100 elderly people leaving Bingo night when the attack started.

"We actually went in lock-down mode with the senior citizens,” Franklin said. “The city council was so outraged, they removed the basketball goals from the park and will have this turned into a pickleball court.

There is another basketball court at Bessemer City Middle School.

Police believe the problems they have there is because this court draws crowds after the sun goes down.

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