An African-American man who was applying for a job at a truck stop in eastern Oregon on Saturday was stabbed by a white man in what the Ontario Police Department has ruled as racially motivated.
According to The Oregonian, 48-year-old Ronnell Hughes was stabbed in the neck multiple times while seated at an Arby’s Restaurant by a white truck driver “without provocation.”
The attacker, Nolan Strauss, 26, had to be restrained by employees to prevent the unthinkable from happening. He was subsequently arrested.
“The motive for the attack leans heavily towards a racially motivated crime,” a statement by the police said, adding that nothing showed the victim and attacker knew each other or had interacted prior to the incident.
In a police affidavit obtained by the Malheur Enterprise, Strauss, who claimed he was diagnosed as bipolar in 2016 “but hasn’t been taking medication” said he attacked Hughes “because he was black.”
“The suspect said he chose the victim at random due to the color of his skin” and that “he hates black people,” a filed affidavit in Malheur County Circuit Court also said, adding that Strauss’ “intent was to kill the victim.”
The lead detective on the case for Ontario police, Ben Esplin, added that during the arrest of Hughes at the crime scene, he “made some statements that he did what he did because of the color of the victim’s skin.”
Strauss, who appeared at the Malheur County Circuit Court Monday is facing charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and first-degree bias, and unlawful use of a weapon. His bond is also set at $250,000.
“Your honor this is a hate crime of the highest order, your honor. It’s hard to imagine something more malevolent,” the deputy district attorney said in court, according to KTVB. “And it’s really just through the grace of God and working through and excellent trauma team, rapid police response and the incredible surgery department at the hospital that this is not an aggravated murder case.”
Hughes, who suffered life-threatening injuries after the attack had to undergo surgery. He was also put in an induced coma on Sunday but was eventually ended, the Malheur Enterprise reports.