Sexual orientation could have trigged Knox County bar fight

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The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that a fight outside a popular country nightclub in Knox County has left one young man in critical condition and could have been over a group’s sexual orientation.

The story, written by J.J. Stambaugh, says Jacob Young, 21, received severe head injuries after he was thrown to the ground after being hit by a Mercedes-Benz in a parking lot at Cotton Eyed Joe, 11220 Outlet Drive. The incident happened after the bar closed at 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley said authorities still are trying to make a final determination on a motive for the incident, but that witnesses have told Sheriff’s Office investigators that Young and a group of three friends were verbally taunting a second group of men who had gone to Cotton Eyed Joe. No charges have been filed.

The taunts were directed at the group’s sexual orientation, and as the bar closed about 3 a.m. Sunday, the two groups got into a fight in the parking lot and there were several "punches thrown and shoving," she told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

A friend of the second group of men saw what was happening, got into a Mercedes-Benz, and tried to drive toward the club’s entrance in order to summon some bouncers to break up the fight, Dooley said.

"Witnesses are saying that Jacob Young allegedly picked up a rather large piece of asphalt and threw it through the passenger’s side window of the Mercedes, and witnesses said that someone tried to pull the driver from the car," Dooley said. "The driver stepped on the accelerator, hitting Jacob Young."

Young was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he remained Tuesday in critical condition.

The names of the other people involved weren’t made public Tuesday. Their identities will be made public once the investigation is complete, she said.