Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Juveniles accused of hate crime after shooting BB gun, throwing urine at

Juveniles accused of hate crime after shooting BB gun, throwing urine at
Native Americans
Youths facing felony charges

By Andrea J. Cook, Rapid City Journal staff

A carload of white juveniles allegedly singled out homeless Native Americans on Tuesday evening in what police describe as a string of hate crimes on North Rapid streets.

Rapid City Chief of Police Steve Allender said the racially-motivated incidents could undermine the city's efforts to mend relationships with its Native American community.

"It's as sickening as it is shocking," Allender said. "It was just a ridiculous situation."

The juveniles, ranging from 12 to 17 and riding in a brown car, allegedly attacked Native Americans, including a man in a wheelchair, in three incidents. None of the victims was seriously injured and did not require medical treatment.

Mayor Alan Hanks said the attacks are unacceptable. "All of our citizens deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of ethnicity or economic status."

Police responding to a call in the 300 block of East Boulevard North learned of the teens' rampage about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Investigators say a carload of teenagers yelling obscenities circled through a Rent-A-Center parking lot, pointing a gun at a man and woman standing together. As the car moved past a group of six men, one in a wheelchair, a BB gun was fired several times. A bottle of liquid -- urine is suspected -- was thrown at one of the men.

A few minutes later, a second incident was reported at the intersection of Haines Avenue and Nowlin Street, where an adult Native American male was shot in the back with a BB.

The victim gave police the car's license plate number and the direction of travel.

The car was located a short time later with a teenage male driving. Further investigation identified the four other occupants. A black BB handgun and supply of metal pellet ammunition were seized.

Police determined a 12-year-old passenger was not involved in the incident.

Because of their ages, the teens will be dealt with in juvenile court, and their names will not be made public, Allender said.

Four boys face possible felony charges of malicious intimidation or harassment. Allender is requesting that the suspects also be charged with misdemeanor crimes of simple assault and intentionally causing contact with bodily fluids or waste.

Police believe the same car was involved in another incident Tuesday in the area of Anamosa Street and College Park, where urine allegedly was thrown at three or four juveniles. The identities of the suspects are unknown, but their ages possibly range from 10 to 14.

Anyone with information about that incident is asked to call the Rapid City Police Department at 394-4134.

"I pray this was just a fluke," Allender said. "I hope these kids are held accountable and our justice system can do something to help them."

Allender said Tuesday's events should serve as a learning experience for anyone who considers it fun and enjoyable to pick on homeless people.

"We will do our part to stick up for those who can't stick up for themselves," Allender said. "We will not tolerate, we will not rest until the perpetrators of this type of crime in the future are held accountable."

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