A white man has been charged with a hate crime after starting an unprovoked attack on a group of Black teens at a Florida gas station, the Orlando Sentential reports.
The incident took place at a Circle K gas station in Osteen, Florida. There, a group of teens alleged that 58-year-old Richard Burnham began to harass them, unprovoked. One of the teens described the situation in a record from the 911 call. From the Atlanta Black Star:
On a call to 911, one of the teens 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.
According to the police report, Burnham stopped yelling at the teens and decided to go into the store. A few minutes later, he returned with a case of beer but went to his Ram pickup to retrieve a metal pipe. That’s when he started to damage the 2022 Camry the teens were in, shattering one of the windows of the car with the pipe:
Somebody hit our window with a pole, we don’t know what type,” the victim said to the 911 dispatcher. “We don’t know what type of weapon it is but it was heavy and it shattered our window.”
“He hit us,” the caller continued. “[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.
The teens, afraid that the man was attacking them over the color of their skin, attempted to drive away from Burnham. However, Burnham followed the teens for two miles in his pickup before finally allowing them to drive off.
The Atlanta Black Star doesn’t report how Burnham was caught by police, but when investigators spoke to him, his story didn’t add up. While he admitted he was at the Circle K, he claimed that the teens started the altercation when they threatened to kill him and shot him with an airsoft gun. Police were skeptical, however, as Burnham didn’t call 911 to report the incident. Investigators also found no evidence of an airsoft gun at the station.
Burnham was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, causing damage totaling over $1,000, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill in addition to the hate crime charges. He was released after posting his $40,000 bond.