Two weeks ago (Sept. 16) Brandon McLelland was murdered outside of my hometown of Paris, Texas.
Here’s how the story of Brandon’s death was related on an East Texas radio station:
- A Lamar County man was killed Tuesday morning by an apparent hit and run driver. The Department of Public Safety says Brandon McClelland, 24 of Paris, was walking along FM-2648 in Powderly when an unknown vehicle
struck him. State Trooper Timothy Keel is investigating.
The incident was reported in the Paris News (which has removed their archives for Sept. 15-18) as a hit and run. Brandon’s family was told by local authorities that it was a hit and run. I was contacted by someone close to the situation on Thursday September 18. Here’s what I was told about the details of the incident:
- On Monday night, Sept. 15, Brandon was picked up in a truck from his home by two white guys he had previously hung out with — Shannon Fendley and Ryan Crossley (spelling not confirmed). Again, they are both white boys that he knew, and he does not have a vehicle of his own.
- They stopped by a local beer/wine store in Toco where Brandon chatted with a white female store clerk that was a friend of his. She saw Brandon with both boys and saw him leave with them. I don’t know afternoon that they found blood on one of the pickup trucks owned by one of the white suspects, and that they would be issuing arrest warrants for the white men.
- There are no more eye witnesses after that. Brandon was found dead the following morning on FM 2468 in Powderly, Texas around 5 am. His family was told that he was possibly the victim of a hit and run accident … perhaps by a gravel truck.
The next day, I began calling people in Paris, but more so people outside of Paris who I thought could objectively find out more about what was going on. Here are some of the things that were shared with me anecdotally. This information has not been confirmed:
- Shannon Fendley was arrested in 2003 in conjunction with a shooting that took place in a park in Paris. He was defended by Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young, and got off with a mild sentence. I was told that he did serve a small sentence, and while in jail teamed up with a White Supremacist group for which he allegedly has an affiliation tattoo on his chest.
- The Texas Rangers got involved on monday (Sept. 22) and began a criminal investigation. They told the family on monday afternoon that they found blood on one of the pickup trucks owned by one of the white suspects, and that they would be issuing arrest warrants for the white men.
- It’s not clear whether race was a contributing factor here. Brandon was close friends with one of the white guys (shannon finley), and in fact brandon did time in prison on a perjury conviction because he refused to divulge information he had about a killing shannon committed (shannon served a sentence for manslaughter for that case).
So as African-American Political Pundit shares, Dallas’ CBS 11 ran a story on this horrible murder. In the story they report that Brandon’s body was found on the side of a road outside Paris on September 16th. Family members were told he was hit by a vehicle and dragged 60-feet.
There’s no doubt that law enforcement knew the magnitude of this crime from the early stages. According to a source, the funeral director who picked up Brandon’s body at the scene of the crime was told by a local Justice of the Peace to “soothe this over” because Paris doesn’t need any more negative racial attention. The sheriff’s department would have known full well that FM 2648 would be a strange place for anyone to be walking late at night, so to suggest a hit and run made it iffy from the start.
There’s more to this story, but in a post Shaquanda Cotton/Jena 6 world cases like this one will be under more scrutiny on the front end rather than trying to clean up afterwards. On a personal note, I think this case will be hard to try as a hate crime because of the relationships that were present.
The focus should be making sure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime receive the maximum penalty for their part in this crime. I have no doubt that race played a factor in the violent manor with which they killed Brandon, but the original murder seemed to stem from something else. Anything less than the maximum penalty is unacceptable. When a District Attorney has allegedly represented one of the suspects in a prior case, how unbiased can a Lamar County court be?
I pray that God will bless Brandon’s family and bring forth justice in this case.