Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bremerton, Washington, Man Charged with Anti-Gay Hate Crime for Assault on Seattle's Capitol Hill

Defendant Screamed Homophobic Slurs while Chasing Gay Men with a Knife

A 38-year-old Bremerton, Washington, man was charged today with a federal hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for a January 2015 assault on three gay men, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.  Troy Deacon Burns was transferred from state custody today for his initial appearance on the federal charge in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 p.m. PDT.

According to the criminal complaint, just after midnight on Jan. 25, 2015, three gay men were walking on East Pike Street toward Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood when Burns came up behind them and shouted homophobic slurs.  Burns was holding a knife, which he raised up over his head in a stabbing position.  Fearing for their safety the men started running.  As Burns caught up to one of the men he again used a slur as he attempted to stab him.  One of the other men was able to pull his friend away from Burns.  The third man located Seattle Police Officers who took Burns into custody.  While detained in the patrol car, Burns continued to yell homophobic slurs.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Commission of a hate crime is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U. S. Attorney Bruce Miyake of the Western District of Washington.  The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is providing significant assistance with the case.

Hate Crimes
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 17, 2016