A White male suspect in Florida was arrested for an unprovoked attack. The man used a metal pipe to smash a car with three high school students inside–two of whom were Black.
Richard Burnham, a 58-year-old man from DeLand, Florida, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal mischief.
His charges were elevated to a hate crime by officials because the suspect allegedly hurled racial epithets during the attack.
Surveillance footage taken at a Circle K gas station in Volusia County near where the attack occurred was used to track him down.
Burnham reportedly approached the teens and started yelling at them using racial slurs–including the n-word.
On a 911 call, one of the victims said:
"He was just kind of saying something to us and my friend who was driving. It's his car, he told him like get away from the car, back up."
You can watch a news report, here.
According to a police report, Burnham went into a convenience store after verbally harassing the teenagers around 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
The teens said things escalated when Burnham re-emerged from the store.
He reportedly went to retrieve a metal pipe from his Dodge Ram truck and rushed toward the vehicle with the students.
One of the victims told the 911 dispatcher:
“Somebody hit our window with a pole, we don’t know what type. We don’t know what type of weapon it is but it was heavy and it shattered our window.”
The frightened caller continued:
"He hit us [and] we kind of like pulled. We tried to like pull out of the way so he couldn’t hit us again and my friend got out of the car to, like, say what are you doing and he tried to come back and hit us, so we left because we were scared.”
Burnham continued to pursue them in his truck and trailer towing two four-wheelers after the teens drove away in an effort to distance themselves from their attacker.
After driving for two miles down S.R. 415, Burnham retreated.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office explained the enhancement of the charges was due to the suspect committing “an unprovoked, racially prejudiced attack on a car occupied by three high school students at a gas station in the Osteen area.”
However, Burnham maintained that statement was false.
He claimed the teens assaulted him first and he acted in retaliation when the teens threatened to kill him and they shot at him with an airsoft gun–which is a toy gun.
But the police said Burnham never called 911 and they added his story didn't line up with that of the high schoolers.
Oher discrepancies in his recollection of events included the fact police on the scene found no firearms on the teens.
On Wednesday, Burnham was released from Volusia County Jail on a $40,000 bond.