A proven White supremacist who shot and injured a Black man after telling him and his colleague to go back to Africa during a physical altercation in Baltimore in 2018 has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by a Maryland judge.
Brandon Higgs – an ex-Navy cryptologist – will likely serve 25 years in prison in addition to 5-year probation after the judge presiding over the case suspended 15 years of the sentence, a prosecutor for Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office told the Huffington Post.
“He’s got a long time to think about the shit he did,” the shooting victim, Elvis Smith, told HuffPost after Wednesday’s sentencing. “So I’m happy.”
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The December 2018 incident occurred when Higgs’ dog ran through wet concrete Smith and his colleague, Robert Peete, were laying on a driveway. The men got into an altercation as a result, leading Higgs to go home and return with a loaded gun.
Armed with the weapon, Higgs hurled racial slurs at Smith and Peete. “This is my hood,” he reportedly told them. “Black m*therf**kers, go back to Africa!” Smith and Higgs then got into a scuffle and the former hit Higgs with a rake, causing him to take out his gun, according to HuffPost. Peete also alleged he recalled Higgs pointing the gun at him in the face, but he moved away.
The men struggled over the weapon and Smith got hit in the leg after the gun went off. Higgs was eventually disarmed by Smith and Peete and they managed to detain him until the police responded to the scene. It could not be proven whether or not Higgs deliberately fired the weapon when the case was in court.
Higgs was found guilty of first-degree assault, attempted voluntary manslaughter, hate crimes and related firearms at the beginning of the year. The incident gained national attention particularly because of the discovery of messages Higgs sent in organized White supremacist chat groups where he vented his malicious hatred for Black people around Baltimore. Higgs, 26, was reportedly an active member of those groups, HuffPost reports.
One of the said messages, which was discovered by anti-fascists, read: “I decided I’m going to create my own group called Baltimore Animal Control and buy those dog patrol poles with the snare at the end and wrangle ni**ers with it.”
Another read: “Also want to leave bear traps in Baltimore city with buckets of KFC chicken.”
Dylann Roof, the White supremacist behind the infamous Charleston church shooting in 2015 that led to the death of nine African Americans, was also called “St. Roof” by Higgs.