Robbery suspect Irving Blake said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Jackson Free Press that he and his three companions were falsely accused of strong armed robbery targeting Latinos in Ridgeland.
"I would want the same enthusiasm to broadcast our innocence as our guilt," said Blake, who called the JFP after reading a report about his arrest the week before.
Ridgeland Police Department arrested Blake, Jocelyn Alexander, Dewight Neal and Dewayne Neal on May 8 after what Blake says was an accident in the apartment complex.
"My frat brothers (Dewayne and Dewight Neal) had an accident at Oakbrook (apartments) at approximately 5 p.m. … We were standing outside, and about five police cars rushed by," Blake said. "They stopped and asked us if anything had happened, and we said no."
Blake said that about 15 minutes after the group walked back to Andrews' apartment, Ridgeland police arrived to question them. They were soon thereafter arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery.
Blake said that he is a member of the Tougaloo golf team and that the Neal brothers are attending officer training school with hopes of entering the Army after graduation. Blake's father, Jeffery Neal, suspects profiling is a factor in the investigation.
"My son is an African American in the South," Jeffery Blake said. "(They) are being crucified as far as I'm concerned."
Lt. John Neal of the Ridgeland Police Department said he was confident that the charges are based solely on the evidence that was gathered by the arresting officer.
"Mr. Blake was arrested based on the facts and evidence of the case," Neal said. "Race certainly is not one of the factors."