A Middle Tennessee State University Muslim student was beaten and nearly kidnapped by three suspects wearing Joker masks from the Batman comic book.
The attack happened at an apartment complex on Old Castle Drive over the weekend.
Officials with the Murfreesboro Police Department said three gunmen, their faces hidden, ambushed the student. The victim was a 21-year-old Muslim student, who suffered a beating and gash to the head.
He told detectives three men wearing Joker masks, like the Batman villain, grabbed him as he walked to a friend's apartment Saturday night.
"This appears to be a very bizarre robbery," said Sergeant Kyle Evans with the Murfreesboro Police Dept.
The suspects pulled a gun and demanded the victim's cell phone and cash. The victim said one of the gunmen took a weapon and put it to his chest and pulled the trigger.
It was not clear if they wanted to scare him or kill him. The gunmen then started beating the victim and dragging him toward a car.
In the incident report, the victim stated that they "tried to make him get into their vehicle, but he was able to fight them off."
"It's all very unusual for the typical robbery," said Sgt. Evans.
For officers, it raised the question: Was the victim targeted perhaps because of his Muslim faith?
Sgt. Evans said initially detectives considered every option, including the possibility of a hate crime, but further investigation showed officers that was not the case.
"There's nothing to lead investigators to believe that there's any type of bias or prejudice that motivated this robbery. There were no statements that were made that were anti-Muslim," said Sgt. Evans.
The victim simply told police his attackers appeared to be strangers. The investigation remained open, as police hoped to catch the three suspects in joker masks before they can strike again.
The victim was not available to go on camera as he recovers from his injuries.
Detectives said he told them he did not hear his attackers make any reference to his Muslim faith, leaving them to simply classifying the case as an aggravated robbery, not a hate crime.